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Old 05-20-2012, 11:22 AM   #1
Westheim
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Portland Raccoons (ABL)

I apologize for the bad shape of this thread throughout the first pages. It gets better from about the fourth or fifth page onwards, although I didn't settle into a tidy format until the early 90s... Once again, sorry. I now also wish I had maintained a clean style from the start for the marginally more time it takes.

Overview:

1977 season - starts here
1978 season - pg. 1, post #20
1979 season - pg. 2, post #38
1980 season - pg. 3, post #58
1981 season - pg. 5, post #84
1982 season - pg. 6, post #112
1983 season - pg. 8, post #143
1984 season - pg. 10, post #189
1985 season - pg. 12, post #228
1986 season - pg. 14, post #277
1987 season - pg. 17, post #324
1988 season - pg. 19, post #364
1989 season - pg. 22, post #426
1990 season - pg. 25, post #487
1991 season - pg. 27, post #539
1992 season - pg. 31, post #610
1993 season - pg. 34, post #677
1994 season - pg. 38, post #742
1995 season - pg. 40, post #786
1996 season - pg. 42, post #837
1997 season - pg. 47, post #921
1998 season - pg. 50, post #987
1999 season - pg. 52, post #1,036
2000 season - pg. 55, post #1,088
2001 season - pg. 57, post #1,138
2002 season - pg. 61, post #1,203
2003 season - pg. 64, post #1,268
2004 season - pg. 67, post #1,328
2005 season - pg. 70, post #1,393
2006 season - pg. 73, post #1,451
2007 season - pg. 76, post #1,510
2008 season - pg. 81, post #1,604
2009 season - pg. 84, post #1,675
2010 season - pg. 87, post #1,732
2011 season - pg. 91, post #1,804
2012 season - pg. 93, post #1,850
2013 season - pg. 96, post #1,904
2014 season - pg. 99, post #1,969
2015 season - pg. 102, post #2,040
2016 season - pg. 105, post #2,098
2017 season - pg. 108, post #2,145
2018 season - pg. 111, post #2,205
2019 season - pg. 114, post #2,271
2020 season - pg. 116, post #2,319
2021 season - pg. 119, post #2,376
2022 season - pg. 121, post #2,414
2023 season - pg. 124, post #2,461
2024 season - pg. 126, post #2,508
2025 season - pg. 129, post #2,561
2026 season - pg. 131, post #2,604
2027 season - pg. 134, post #2,661
2028 season - pg. 136, post #2,701

Whatever it is that you read and are objecting to, feel free to comment with a kind "You moron, you do it all wrong!!", if you'd like.

And now comes the original, horrible first post:

------------------------------------------------------------

Foreword: after the dismal failure of leading the 1962 Mets anywhere other than last place (I will still continue there at some time, but I need to win a game here or there from time to time in order to be happy … or at least not totally depressed), I have created this league. This was planned anyway at some point to have the two careers running, so we’re just moving up the timetable a bit. It is a fictional setup. Now let me try and breath life into it.

This is 1977. This is the American Baseball League (ABL).

Setup: two leagues, each with two divisions of six teams. There will be NO spring training, since I really really hate going in with 40 guys and coming out with 35 guys and five more tied to wheelchairs for the next eight months.

There will be interleague play. I grabbed a custom schedule, let’s see how this works out. The leagues are the Federal League and the Continental League. While the Federal League’s two divisions are aligned roughly west and east of the Mississippi, the Continental League’s two divisions stretch all across the continent between the coasts, one in the north and one in the south. The CL also holds the only two franchises outside the U.S. in the league, one in Vancouver and one in Tijuana. Don’t look at me, real estate in Mexico was cheaper than in San Diego.

I have chosen to randomly populate the franchises with players, I will see what I got later. For now let’s talk a bit about the team in general that I have taken over. You’re talking about the intimidating Portland Raccoons here. We’re so intimidating! Our logo has a totally intimitading fluffy lovely cute raccoon hugging a baseball. (blinks) Okay, who designed this?

Portland, Oregon, seems to have a difficult start initially. The team is owned by a Mexican businessman, Xavier Bravo, who seems intent to operate an ABL team on a shoestring budget. Out $5.2M budget is ranked 24th out of 24 teams. Yay!

Shedding light onto our division (the Continental League’s northern division) only for the moment, we will face the Vancouver Canadiens across the border here in the Northwest. Then there are two Midwest teams in the division, the Milwaukee Loggers and the Indianapolis Indians. I seem to fail constantly at typing Indianapolis, so this could be constant source of trouble. And then there are the big buck teams of the division, the Boston Titans and the New York Crusaders. They have twice our payroll. Scared. A lot.

Occassionally, the Raccoons will face the Salem Wolves in interleague play, who are just two flyballs away from us and play in the Federal League’s western division. The first such matchup would be this year in August in Salem. Looking forward to - … wait, do wolves feed on raccoons? Scared. A lot.

Now let’s look at the bunch that was assembled to throw the bats and swing the balls. By the way, did you realize that I understand a lot about this game already?

Boy, this will be trouble. Starting pitching will be mess number one. I seem to be lacking guys that can go deep into games with low stamina almost all across the board, and control could become an issue. Bullpen ought to be okay. Maybe. But goal number one would be to find two more decent long guys.

Batting could work out just okay, but I don’t have a power hitter. Goal number two: find a power bat. I quickly realized that my AAA roster would not be helpful in the quest to fulfill those two goals.

The pitching problem had to be solved first. How dramatic was it? Very. I had only one pitcher with stamina greater than 9 (of 20) on my majors roster. Thus about the first thing I did was to go to the free agent pool to get at least two starters immediately.

I found two candidates that at least wouldn’t get raped each time they took the mound with solid stamina and made them offers. Luckily the team had been very cheap so far so I had some budget room. Next: find a guy with power, preferrably with defensive abilities and either in RF or at SS (I know there are plenty of power SSs out there). There were no free agents matching this.

At least I was able to sign my new makeshift starters Juan Berrios and Matt Huber by January 14 (by the way, complete roster will come once it is finalized). I had also contacted the Washington Capitals to make a trade for their shortstop Ben Simon. Simon was rated a stellar infielder (at all positions) and a solid hitter with power. I offered one of my shortstops and two relievers to shore up their terrible bullpen. I ultimately also had to add my projected backup catcher to the deal which was completed on January 17. Fans were ecstatic about the five player trade that brought one of the best shortstops in the league to Portland. And even better: he had a really small contact for his abilities. :-)

The most glaring deficiencies had been patched up now, although my number 4 starter with the current roster, Armando Padilla, still only had 9 stamina. Ed Sullivan, scheduled to start at 2B, was weak defensively, and I had to get another catcher now, but would not waste much money on it. Both AAA catchers looked good enough to get up to play backup. I also had to drop one reliever to AAA (I didn’t need eight of them, I thought at least), and get another utility player, preferrably in the infield.

The Richmond Rebels came out victorious in the hunt for sought after shortstop Tony Bruce on January 29. More than half a dozen teams had been after Bruce, but not the Raccoons. We were settled at SS. February was quiet. I signed a catcher to a minor league contract and moved AAA catcher R.J. Sanderson up to the majors to be the #2 there.

March 5 – my Raccoons signed outfielder Tim Anderson to a 3-year deal worth almost $700k. I was cringing at the money, but he was a defensive beast and not totally inept at the plate, shoring up that area of the roster. Anderson was 28 yr old leftie, which put my favored lineup at five left handed batters (excl. pitchers) now. If nothing else, this should keep right handed pitchers scared. I demoted one of the relievers, a 19 yr old prospect, to AAA (please note I don’t remember names at all), to make room for Anderson. This gave me 11 pitchers on the roster now – the desired number. One of the starters and two relievers are lefties – the desired number. I still had the desire to get another leftie starter to replace Padilla in the rotation.

March 20 – the Raccoons signed Ned Ray, a 26 yr old left handed starter, to a 2-year contract worth $154k. Ray was not what I really wanted, but I didn’t get anything better. Another reliever was moved to AAA to make room for him on the roster, which was by now completed. Bring in the clowns!

Portland Raccoons roster for opening day 1977:

SP Alex Miranda – still young, but already maxed out according to my scout, he was the #1 starter. He would not complain after throwing 150 pitches.
SP Matt Huber – putting up decent numbers across the board
SP Juan Berrios – another Huber, but with less movement and talent
SP Ned Ray – the leftie among the bunch, control issues possible, but we’ll see.

MR Armando Padilla – if he’d be able to go longer than four or five innings, he’d been the #3 starter at least, but he couldn’t, so he was scheduled for spot starts and mop up duties and eat innings there.
MR Wally Gaston – good stuff and movement, but unfortunately control is troubled
MR Kevin Hatfield – decent guy
MR Brett Justice – rated 2nd in movement on the team, hopefully his control can match pace
MR Ben Jenkins – no outstanding strengths
MR Stanton Coleman – for the quick punchout if you need one
CL Ben Green – best among the bullpen with very good numbers across the board

C Darryl Maloney – one of the best catchers in the field, but his bat is lacking
C R.J. Sanderson – his main trait is that he’s cheap, purely backup

1B/3B Wyatt Johnston – a 1B ace with the potential to hit .300 and launch 30 dingers
1B Hoyt Cook – backup infielder without much sparkle
3B Freddy Lopez – strong defense, fair offensive
1B/2B/3B/SS/LF Ed Sullivan – can play almost everywhere, solid hitter, would fit best on an infield corner, but I need him at 2B, which doesn’t thrill me
SS Greg Swift – I wish I had somebody else…
1B/2B/3B/SS Ben Simon – the diamond on the team, top star potential, thrilling defensive ratings with solid offense, I’m in love already

LF/RF Robby Davis – good defense, hitting could be so much better
LF/RF José Flores – good defense, hitting could be so very much better
LF/CF/RF Tim Anderson – very good defense, another 30 homers candidate with potential for very good average as well
1B/LF/CF/RF Johan Dolder – he is from Luxembourg (of all places), has stellar defense, but his hitting makes me cry. Late inning replacement, although the stock defense is not bad at all. Trade bait.
RF/LF Pedro Sánz – good hitter with average defense, potential error sink
RF Jorge López – mediocre across the board, backup

Overall, it had been a good three months so far. The salaries had shot up to $2.8M, 15th in the league, but we don’t want to be in last place, and good players don’t come cheap. With Anderson we should have put our outfield in line, and the addition of all those pitchers was absolutely necessary. Xavier Bravo is also encouraged. He expects the team to play .500 ball. I also consider this a realistic aim for the first season. Don’t get too roughed up, and then start to build the team.

First pitch coming up.
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Last edited by Westheim; 01-13-2019 at 01:24 PM.
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Old 05-20-2012, 05:54 PM   #2
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Opening day. The Raccoons were able to open the season (and the whole history of the league) at home, although their opponent was already one of the top contenders for the pennant, the New York Crusaders. They had strong pitching and big bats, and it would take a bit of luck to beat them.

Alex Miranda threw the first pitch in Raccoons history, allowing a single to Crusaders’ 3B Pedro Hermundo. Hermundo was erased on a play later in the inning, but the Crusaders scored their first run in the first inning. The Raccoons had to wait until the fourth inning before they scored Tim Anderson on a Wyatt Johnston sac fly. The weather was also not the best and it rained on and off throughout the game with a 40-minute delay in the sixth inning that forced Miranda out of the game after he had already walked five. Five relievers chained together the last few innings, and all was sugar for the moment – a 3-run home run by Pedro Sánz eventually won the game for the Raccoons 5-4. The only stain was Ben Green, who was unable to close the game and allowed two runs in the top 9th. Kevin Hatfield was the first game winner in Raccoons history. Yay!

The second game went just the other way round, as the Raccoons scored first, but eventually lost 5-4. To close the series, roles switched once more. New York scored three runs early off Juan Berrios, but the Raccoons came back and tied the game in the middle innings. Still tied at 3-3 the game went to the bottom of the ninth, where the Crusaders committed two errors that allowed the Raccoons to score the winning run, 4-3.

Yay, success! The Crusaders were considered one of the best teams in the game, and the Raccoons had gone 2-1 against them in a very tight series. Pedro Sánz had been stellar with two home runs and eight RBIs.

One more series on the home stint remained against the 1-3 Tijuana Condors. Ned Ray started his first game to open the series. While his pitching was mediocre at best, he produced a base clearing double in the bottom 4th to get the Raccoons ahead 3-1. Talking about bad pitching: that was not the Raccoon’s pitching staff’s day. The Condors won 10-4 partly thanks to nine walks given up by my pitchers. The Condor’s Jorge Romero shut down my guys big time in the middle game of the series, allowing two hits in seven innings. On the other side, Miranda struggled with his command again and walked four as the Raccoons lost 3-0 with only four total hits. Poor control continued into the last game of the series, with the Raccoons walking six. The Condors completed the sweep, winning 4-2.

Tijuana had mainly swept us on pitching. Their starters were sharp, mine were just waving batters to first base. That was an issue, but contrary to the New York series, this time the offense didn’t put up. Actually, the five runs from the first game against the Crusaders were still the most for the Raccoons in a game. Now they hit the road, meeting with the 4-2 San Francisco Bayhawks and 2-3 Vancouver Canadiens (the latter series over four games).

The Bayhawks so far had not homered at all, but otherwise the team looked pretty good. The first game was hitting poor on both sides, as the Bayhawks squeezed through 3-1. Freddy Lopez was thrown out at home to end the ballgame in a very close decision. By now, my offensive was last in the CL. Four of my starters were slumping out of the gates, including Ben Simon. Defensively he was fantastic, but he was still trying to get over .200 at the plate. 3-4-5 hitters Sullivan, Johnston, and Sánz were producing well, with Tim Anderson also okay. It was still early but this was something to watch closely.

Simon must have heard me contemplating. Game 2 at the bay, and the Raccoons plated four in the first inning, including three on Simon’s first home run. This was right were things stopped to work out. The Raccoon’s middle infielders then piled up three errors in two innings, and Ned Ray was torched badly by the Bayhawks. Four innings down, the score was 10-4 – for the Bayhawks. There was no comeback from this, and the Raccoons scored only one more to make it a 10-5 loss. Then they looked at Juan Correa in game 3. Correa was one of the best pitchers in the league. In his first two starts he had posted zero walks and zero earned runs, but 16 K’s. The Raccoons struggled, although Miranda made a good start. Down 2-0, the Raccoons loaded the bases with one out in the top 9th, but struck out twice to end the game and take the second consecutive sweep. That was six losses chained together and they were safely tugged away in last place in the CL North.

The Canadiens were at 4-4, 2nd in the CL North (trailing the Boston Titans, who had shot out of the gate, winning eight of their first nine), but had struggled defensively. If the Raccoons wouldn’t score against their pitchers, then there was deep trouble ahead. The first game looked like the Raccoons would recover nicely. Matt Huber pitched eight plus innings and entered the bottom 9th 7-1 ahead. He surrendered a walk off home run and was pulled, but the bullpen collapsed spectacularly. The Canadiens scored five more to go to extra innings, where Wally Gaston walked three in the bottom 10th, including walking in the winning run on four pitches and the Raccoons lost seven straight, 8-7. This one stung, badly.

Fortunes finally turned around in game 2 in Vancouver. Sánz belted a grand slam that started a strong offensive outing that led to a 9-3 win, stopping the bleeding, finally. Juan Berrios was the winning pitcher – it was the first win for a Raccoons starter in the 11th game! Ned Ray surrendered four runs in six innings in his third start, but the Raccoons produced enough to win 8-4 against a struggling Canadiens pen. The series was evened out in the final game with a 4-3 Canadiens win. Juan Miranda pitched well, but suffered a leg injury in the seventh inning, diagnosis pending. That’s very, very bad.

This capped off the first two weeks of the season. The Raccoons had gone 4-9 with a fair share of struggles. There were two good news after all on April 18, an off day. First, Pedro Sánz was the CL player of the week, going 13-28 with three homers and eight RBI. Overall he is .451 with 5 HR and 16 RBI and on triple crown pace. Second, the Miranda injury was not that bad. He had suffered only a mild calf strain and would most likely not miss a start. Phew.

Home stint over the next two weeks up for the Raccoons against the Indians, Thunder, Knights, and (again) Crusaders, enough to close out the month of April.

May I say I’m insanely in love with that raccoon?
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Old 05-21-2012, 05:38 PM   #3
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One thing I didn’t mention earlier, that already happened on April 8, 1977: Samuel Serra of the Dallas Stars has become the first player in ABL history to hit for the cycle in a 20-10 blowout of the Pittsburgh Miners.

Now, back to our Raccoons, who were facing a 12-game home stint. I had experimented with our leadoff hitter a bit and had for the moment decided on our Luxembourgian Johan Dolder, who was put in LF. If production from Wyatt Johnston (.188) and Ben Simon (.220) would kick in now, we could be just fine.

Dolder also homered to left to start the first inning in the first game against the Indianapolis Indians. From there, the Raccoons never trailed thanks to fine pitching by Matt Huber, Kevin Hatfield, and Ben Green, who finally got his first save in a 2-1 win. Another low-scoring game followed, this time with the Indians up 2-0, after their starter Jorge Vallejo limited the Raccoons to three hits in eight innings. The Raccoons lost the rubber game, when Brett Justice walked in the winning run for the Indians in the top 10th in a 3-2 loss.

The Raccoons continued with shockingly weak offense. They scored two to start against Oklahoma City in the second inning after a nicely executed double steal, but Alex Miranda was burned for four runs on four hits in the seventh inning and we lost 4-2. No offense. After hitting .450 in the first two weeks of the season, Sánz was now barely hitting anything, and the rest of the lineup followed suit. The middle game in the series was another depressing loss, 3-2 after 12 innings. The sweep was completed with another 4-2 loss to Thunder.

Slowly but surely this started to look like a boat load of trouble. Now at 5-14 the Raccoons had long lost contact with the rest of the division. They were leading the majors in K’s and were close to the bottom in batting average with very few walks in there as well. Mediocre pitching didn’t help. They would next face the Atlanta Knights, who were 9-9, but had lost their last four. Would they be able to jump on the bandwagon?

No. Ned Ray was wrecked for six runs in three plus innings and the Raccoons only got their usual two runs in the 8-2 wipeout, followed by a 100% increase in output by the Raccoons lineup. This was still far from enough against the big bats the Knights had brought and the team went down 9-4. I was clueless. On paper, this should really be a .500 team. Now they were not even a .250 team anymore. I demoted Robby Davis to AAA and brought up David Correa, a 32 yr old veteran. Correa was put into LF, Dolder moved to CF, and Anderson benched. Anderson led the team in steals with six, but was outright horrible at the plate. Turned out, Correa was as well, going 0-3 in his first game. Knights won, 3-2.

In other news:
April 20 – The Las Vegas Aces’ outfielder Fabio Tigre is out for the season with a broken elbow. He looks like a solid player and started hitting at .308 before being injured.

Raccoons dead last. Pyth. Record is 8-14, by the way, while neither the Titans nor the Indians would have a winning record this way. Loggers would lead 12-9, Raccoons 4.5 GB. We have actually scored nine more runs than the Indians.

I don’t know, maybe it’s me, maybe I’m just too much of a useless dumb moron for this game. I’ll be crying behind the bat rack. Once I’m done being a pussy, the home stint will conclude against the Crusaders, followed by a weeklong road trip for Milwaukee and Pittsburgh, the latter marking the first interleague series, followed by one at home against Los Angeles.
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Old 05-21-2012, 07:13 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Westheim View Post
Raccoons dead last. Pyth. Record is 8-14, by the way, while neither the Titans nor the Indians would have a winning record this way. Loggers would lead 12-9, Raccoons 4.5 GB. We have actually scored nine more runs than the Indians.

I don’t know, maybe it’s me, maybe I’m just too much of a useless dumb moron for this game. I’ll be crying behind the bat rack.

LOL... sorry for laughing but that last comment was really funny.

I like the idea of seeding the teams at the start and just playing with what you got. You took the smallest market too, so that is a bit of a handicap. I think your luck will improve based on the facts in the first paragraph quoted above. Hang in there.
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Old 05-22-2012, 02:30 AM   #5
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Except that it really shouldn't be the smallest market in the face of Sioux Falls and Topeka and the like. Maybe, the penny-pincher mentality of my owner makes things even harder.

Or the game has set me to Portland, Maine. Yuck.

Laughing about me is not an issue. I ususally deserve it.
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Old 05-22-2012, 06:26 PM   #6
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An 8-game losing streak sat on top of the low-scoring Raccoons as they welcomed the New York Crusaders for the second series between the teams. The Raccoons led the season series 2-1. The Crusaders tied that score by winning the first game 4-2. The Raccoons had actually more hits (8-7), but never chained them together very well and most came with already two outs. Juan Berrios had been the starter, and had pitched well, allowing only one run over seven innings. I made an experiment by letting Armando Padilla start game 2. Padilla went six frames of 4-hit, 1-run ball with 2 BB and 1 K, pleasing me. I was less pleased with Ben Jenkins, who blew the game with four runs in the seventh. It was the 10th consecutive loss for the Raccoons, 5-1. LF David Correa was benched again after going 0-8 with 4 K and the lineup was revamped with Sullivan and Johnston moving down to 5-6 and Sánz and Simon up to 3-4 in a vain attempt to generate offense.

One more against the Crusaders remaining. Alex Miranda (0-4; 4.08) faced Bernard Lepore (3-1; 4.33). That alone tells you volumes about the offensive quality of the Raccoons, who averaged less than three runs per game. It was another game to cry your heart out, as the Raccoons were skinned alive in a 13-2 rout.

Frustration.

The two last place CL North team were up next, with the 12-12 Loggers hosting the 5-20 Raccoons. Loggers had lost their last three. Raccoons had lost their last eleven and their GM had been seen in a DIY store buying a 9 ft long piece of good rope and an unstable ladder for unknown purposes.

The Loggers shut out the Raccoons for 3-0 in game 1 of the 4-game contest (with the Raccoons making pathetic outs with runners on third and two outs three times in the contest). This put the Coons’ losing streak at 12. Berrios took the mound the next day. I will let the picture speak for itself:



Juan Berrios pitched the first no-hitter in ABL history, while at the same time the Raccoons rubbed the Loggers the ugly way! Wow! (stunned)

I almost would have taken Berrios out of the game earlier for a pinch hitter with two outs and runners on first and second, but decided to keep him in – he hit the ball fair to keep the inning going. I didn’t even realize he was on a no-hitter until the seventh inning, when I began sweating. He looked a bit pale before the last inning, mainly because he was already over his pitch count, but I refused to talk or even look at him and just pointed out to the mound (nothing could happen with a 12-run lead, right?), and the stellar defense bailed him out of there to complete the first no-hitter in the ABL! Now let’s hope this will be inspiration for the team to continue on that road. Pleeease.

The Raccoons prepared another bashing for the Loggers the next day, although the game was close for a time. With a 4-3 lead for my team in the bottom 7th, Ben Jenkins got himself the bases full with one out. Padilla got him out by whiffing two. Next inning, the Raccoons plated five, including a slam by Ben Simon, one of his three home runs that day, a new league record, as he batted in seven that day. Raccoons won 9-4. It rained on the Raccoons’ parade the next day – literally. A rain delay of more than one hour forced both starters out after three innings, with Miranda and the Raccoons leading 2-1. We continued on our tear and won 4-3, although Ben Green was again unable to save the game. Up 4-1, he was rattled for two runs, left runners on first and third, and with no outs. Hatfield fanned two and induced a groundball out for the win (and a save).

And into interleague play. We traveled to Pittsburgh to face the 14-14 Miners, who were good offensively, but ranked second-to-last in runs allowed in the Federal League. 3B Rich Johnson had to be watched especially hard. Game 1 was a close contest, as the Miners scored single runs in each frame from the second to the fourth. The Raccoons slowly made the sneak back into the game and tied it 4-4 through nine, before eating the backend of the Miners’ pen in the tenth for three runs. The Miners scored in the bottom 10th, but not enough, and the Raccoons won 7-5. Next up was Berrios, Mr. No-No, but this time he was rapped early for four runs in two innings. He went five without further damage, and the Raccoons tied it by the seventh. Brett Justice pitched the next two. With two outs in the top 8th, Tim Anderson (who had PH’ed for Berrios earlier) walked, bringing up Justice. What the heck – I signaled a hit and run for Justice’s first career at bat. He zinged the wall through the gap into centerfield and the speedy Anderson dashed home for the 5-4 run. Next, Lopez, Sánz, Swift (who had replaced Ed Sullivan, who was injured in a collission at 2B) each produced RBI XBH, capped off by a 2-run homer by Johnston for a 10-4 lead! Justice went four innings, surrendering a solo homer with two out in the ninth, but the 10-5 win was ALL his!

The bad news were that Ed Sullivan would miss two to three weeks with a knee sprain. He was the first Raccoon to end up on the 15-day DL. Greg Swift moved into the lineup in SS, Simon shifted to 2B, and an infielder was called up from AAA in Hector Mendez, a solid fielder, but a poor hitter.

The last game in Pittsburgh became a streak snapper, when Ray went seven with a 4-2 lead, but Padilla and Hatfield failed to get him out of a two on situation in the eighth and allowed three runs across, allowing the Miners to win 5-4.

Still, the Raccoons had shown life, maybe not all was lost. They would return home for a 3-game interleague series against the Pacifics, then hit the road for two weeks, visiting the Indians, Titans (4), Aces, and Falcons.

Standings and roster below. Missing is of course Ed Sullivan, who was hitting .278 with 5 HR and 10 RBI when injured.

In other news:
May 1 – The Salem Wolves’ Rafael Quinones pitches a 1-hitter against the Sacramento Scorpions.
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Old 05-24-2012, 06:18 PM   #7
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The Raccoons faced David Burke in game 1 of the interleague series against the Pacifics. He was the team’s ace and had a 6-1 record under his belt just one month into the season. Alex Miranda? 0-5. Miranda had to be removed in the fifth inning with an undiagnosed injury. The Raccoons held the Pacifics to a 2-2 tie until the 12th inning, when Ben Green, my pathetic excuse for a closer, was shelled for three runs, which the Raccoons’ offense only countered with two in the bottom of the inning and lost 5-4. Next night saw an 11th-inning loss to a grand slam by Carlos Sandoval, 7-3, when the bullpen collapsed once again. At least Miranda’s injury was just a mild abdominal strain that would not kick him out of the rotation. Berrios and the Raccoons came back in the last game against L.A. and won 6-0.

The Raccoons went onto the road for two weeks with a start against the Indians, who led the CL North. The Indians were a strange team. They were 19-13, but had a pythagorean difference of +4, actually allowing more runs than they scored at 112-122. The 11-24 Raccoons had a difference of -4, and were at 134-159 runs scored/allowed. Mentally I was already getting ready for three 1-0 16-inning games. Although there was hope: since Berrios’ no-hitter ten days ago, the Raccoons had always scored three runs or more, and four runs or more in all but one game.

Before the road trip began, I did something else. I tried to shop Ben Green, my miserable closer. I got one offer, from the Salem Wolves, who offered a bullpen prospect in Bob Haines. He was prospected at five stars. But the problem was, that I needed a top reliever NOW. I was tempted, but it was not a trade that would help even the least little bit now.

Jose Flores was tossed for arguing with the home plate umpire in the second inning of the first Indians game. He was not suspended, luckily, since the alternative to LF Flores at the moment would be moving Dolder over and playing Anderson in CF, and Anderson had dropped to .190 at the plate. The Mets went up against Jorge Vallejo in the first game, and were fanned nine times, but they broke through in just one inning, the fifth, scoring three, which was enough to win the first game, 3-1. Following was a walkfest with 12 BB’s distributed, and most of them by the starters. Miranda (still 0-5) left after five, leading 2-1, but Jenkins blew it and the game was tied 2-2 through seven, before the Raccoons broke through the Indians’ bullpen and scored six in the last two innings in an 8-2 win. This win also meant they were not the worst team anymore, as they were now .5 games better than Tijuana, at least for now. Also, Ben Simon became the first ABL player to launch 10 home runs in his career. The last game of the series was never in question – Matt Huber was ravaged by the Indians, who scored all of their eight runs in two innings and won 8-0.

Pedro Sánz was named player of the week after a 13-28 performance with two homers and 8 RBI. His production would be needed against the Boston Titans, whom the Raccoons would face for four games in Boston, and who led the CL in runs, but also were second-to-last in runs allowed.

During the series in Boston I got a trade proposal from the Crusaders, who offered infielder Julio Luján and a prospect for two of my prospects. Well, one of the youngsters on each side had very little potential, it was really a deal for my AAA corner infielder Craig Payne, who was average throughout. As was Luján. I was not inclined to make the trade at all and ultimately declined.

Hitting was poor throughout the Boston series for both teams, as was pitching. Both teams racked up 15 K’s each over the four games, while the Boston pitchers walked 20, and the Raccoons hurlers even gave 23 free passes, and 10 alone in game 3. Adding to that five hit batsmen and four wild pitches one had to wonder how the Raccoons had managed to not get blown away completely. They lost the first three 4-3, 5-2, 3-2, before returning to save some dignity with a 5-3 getaway win.

The draft pool and order were announced on May 15. The Raccoons would pick second after just barely nipping the Condors a few days earlier. My thoughts about it below.

The Aces were quite strong in every aspect (they were atop the CL South for a reason), and this looked much like another low-scoring game. The Raccoons scored first in game 1, but a 3-run bottom 7th turned the fortune in favor of the Aces, who won 3-1. Game 2 was a microcosm of the Raccoons’ first season. Dolder homered to start off the game, but Ned Ray blew it all apart in the bottom 3rd, allowing four runs on a couple of walks (including walking one in), and a wild pitch. The game seemed lost as the Raccoons couldn’t get the offense going until the eighth, when they exploded for five runs, leading 6-4. The Aces came back and tied it, before the Raccoons scored two more in the top 9th. I didn’t trust Ben Green with this. Justice finished the game. Game 3 saw Guillermo Heredia on the mound for the Aces – he truly was on the right team with superb movement and control and an ERA of 1.33 going into the game. He shut down the Raccoons for five innings with a 1-0 lead for his team, but then ran out of steam in the sixth. Greg Swift and Jorge Lopez produced big at bats, as the Raccoons scored five runs in the sixth, forcing Heredia out. The team jumped to 9-1 against the Aces bullpen (who played more than a pair of black 4s and the King of Diamonds), before our own bullpen melted away. Still, we won the game 9-5, taking the series 2-1. This was also the first win for Alex Miranda. Had been about time for a #1 starter.

After an off day, we went to Charlotte to play the Falcons. They had started just as badly as the Raccoons, but had gone on a romp since and were at 21-23. They were scouted as mostly average, with a weak bullpen. Well, sounds like my Raccoons. Yet it was Matt Huber who lost the first game. With a fragile 3-1 lead he walked the first two Falcons in the sixth inning, and all went awful from there. Raccoons lost 6-3. Ed Sullivan was activated from the DL for game 2, going to be tested at 3B, platooning with Freddy Lopez, while outfielder David Correa was sent down to AAA. Sullivan splashed right back in, going 3-4 and scoring once in a 6-1 win over the Falcons in game 2. After the Raccoons had soundly out-hit the Falcons in the first two games, they were shut down heavily by Kent Doyle in the rubber game and managed only three hits, losing 1-0.

In other news:
May 13 – Jorge Munoz of the Las Vegas Aces tossed a 1-hitter against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
May 14 – Sacramento’s CF Jorge Chavez suffered a strained lat that would sideline him for about a month. Chavez was batting .403 with two homers over 62 AB’s.
May 15 – CF Bruce Farrell of the Crusaders hit for 20 straight games
May 16 – CF Ryan Childress of the Nashville Blue Sox hit for a natural cycle in a 6-6 day as his team dumped the Pittsburgh Miners on the road 13-2.
May 19 – Farrell’s hot streak ends at 22 games in a 5-1 loss of his Crusaders against the Canadiens.
May 25 – The Salem Wolves lost SS Beau Horn to a shoulder injury for at least four weeks. Horn was batting .356 with 6 HR and 29 RBI, so this was a pretty big blow to our neighbours.

The team was playing about .500 ball at the moment (in fact the last eight games had seen alternating W’s and L’s for the team), which was not too bad. A few areas needed work, through. One was the #4 starter. Ned Ray was just out of place there. Another was the backup catcher. Sanderson was hitting sub-.100, which was unaccetapble even for a backup catcher.

Next up for the Raccoons was one home series against the Bayhawks, followed by a short trip to Oklahoma City and New York going into June.
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Old 05-25-2012, 09:13 PM   #8
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Up against the Bayhawks, the Raccoons found a tough trash can to open. Game 1 went back and forth with some good hits here and there. Our guests were leading 4-3 going into the bottom 9th, where Sánz forced extra innings with a solo blast to the stands in right field. Ben Green continued to actively sabotage me by giving out two walks and a wild pitch in the top 11th to lose it 5-4. That Green guy had to go somewhere else, AND QUICK SO!! He was a free agent after this season, but it would go for another four months…

One free agent I wanted to resign was Pedro Sánz. He was hitting around .370 and was 3rd in the CL in home runs, so he could be one corner stone of a winning team along with Simon and maybe Johnston. He wanted a 5-year contract worth over $1.9M, but I had something smaller in mind given my tiny budget. I offered him four years just under $1.2M in total with the first two years rather cheap. (He was by the way making some $150k on his current contract) The new deal was signed on June 4, locking Sánz up for the Raccoons through 1981.

The Raccoons lost the second Bayhawks game 6-0 on a 7-hit shutout by Jose Gonzalez, also losing Matt Huber for two weeks to shoulder tendinitis, then were locked in the clubhouse by Juan Correa, the Bayhawk’s pitching phenom, who was 10-1 with a 0.55 ERA. We lost 7-1 and had only two hits… swept.

Huber was placed on the 15-day DL, while Ken Miller was brought up from AAA to sub for him. Miller was a mediocre lefty, just waiting to be booted by somebody who actually had talent. Maybe Padilla would make another the start the first time through the rotation, I’d have to see.

We went to Oklahoma City next. Thunder was currently ranking either 1st or 2nd in the CL in every major category from runs scored to ERAs, so this was more than likely going to extend the current losing streak to at least seven (going back to the last Falcons game). The Racoons jumped on Oklahoma’s starter Kinji Kan to start game 1. Kan only made one inning plus change, allowing seven hits and six runs. But so much for the Raccoons: leading 9-0 in the bottom 3rd, Ned Ray got himself pulled by allowing five runs in the inning and the bases still packed. Justice got us out of there and then Hatfield pitched four scoreless out of the bullpen. Raccoons won 11-5 and Justice was credited with the win. Ray was demoted to mop-up duties and Padilla became the fourth starter effective immediately.

Game 2 was a close affair with the score tied after each of the first six innings, 2-2 after two, 3-3 after the fourth, and still 3-3 to start the top 7th. There my team really started to rock with a 7-hit, 5-run performance en route to a splashing 10-3 win. R.J. Sanderson contributed a 2-run home run in the top 8th, and Ben Green actually managed to deliver a 1-2-3 bottom 9th for once. Game 3 was started by Ken Miller in his debut. He allowed all runs in the Raccoons’ 6-1 loss to the Thunder over five innings, four alone in the first on two homers. It was probably too early to judge him, but I had known beforehand that he would not be the next best superstar.

Pedro Sánz was the Continental League Batter of the Month with a .365, 4 HR, 20 RBI performance. He’s .357 with 9 HR and 42 RBI overall as of May 31 (after two games against Thunder).

The Raccoons had just left last place in the CL North and now they were already up against the division leaders New York Crusaders. They overcame both Kyle Owens, a very good starter, and their closer Robinson Borquez, scoring twice in the top 9th for a close 4-3 win, and Green earned a save, his fourth of the season. Way to go, Benny-Boy. It was the only win in the series for the team, as the other two games went away 4-2 and 5-2, respectively. The last loss was almost entirely on Stanton Coleman who either gave hits or walks to all four batters he faced in the bottom 7th. The Crusaders’ Bruce Farrell broke his hand tumbling into first base in the last game and would be out for two months.

Ten days to go until the amateur draft. The Raccoons would play at home against the Canadiens and then play another pair of interleague games, first at home against the Cincinnati Cyclones, then on the road with the Dallas Stars. Both of those were fighting hard for the top of their divisions, so no free pass ahead. But first the Canadiens – they currently had the worst bullpen in the Continental League in terms of ERA, which made me wonder how my guys could possibly have NOT the worst bullpen ERA with all the misery living in there.

Brett Justice suffered a torn labrum in the first Canadiens game, a 4-3 Raccoons loss. He would be out for up to a year, dealing another blow to my already depressed mood. Along with Hatfield and Gaston he was the only somewhat reliable arm in that pathetic bullpen of mine, and now he was gone for long, long, very, very long. We’d play one man short until Matt Huber could be reactivated in a few days.

Game 2 was a massive pitching disaster on both sides. Raccoons pitching allowed 13 hits, seven walks, plus an error, but we still won the game against the Canadiens’ 16 hits, 11 walks, and three errors, by the whopping score of 16-11! The rubber game was much the same, but this time the Raccoons were downed (and possibly drowned) 13-5 in an all around horrible performance, which made me cringe in pain more than once.

In other news:
May 28 – The Aces lose Guillermo Heredia, their 35 yr old ace pitcher with an 1.60 ERA, for the season with a torn rotator cuff.
June 2 – The Milwaukee Loggers fire GM Fletcher Kimball and manager Ramón Guiterrez after dropping to last place in the CL North with a 17-36 record.
June 9 – The Capitals lost leftie starter Armando Chavez (7-5; 3.28) for the season with a ruptured disc.

Interleague against Cincinnati and at Dallas up next, followed by the draft. The Cyclones’ strong suit seemed to be defense, while we all know by now that the Raccoons’ strong suit is their omnivorous nature which makes them survive on human trash and discards. I’m looking at you, Ben Green.

After the draft: home series against the Titans, then short road trip to Indianapolis and Tijuana.

I also went over the draft pool, looking for the guys who’d win the World Series with the Raccoons in ’80 or ’81 or so. I picked about 20% of the draft class together for shortlisting. Below are my Top 10 or so. This is not a ranking yet. I really can’t decide between Ramirez and Hall at the moment.

P Andrés Ramirez (13/15/3 – 20/20/18 – 18) – 2.5/5 ; top star alarm!!
LF/RF Daniel Hall (11/8/12 – 19/18/20) – 4/5 ; can’t silence this bat, top star potential!
P Forrest Reid (17/12/8 – 20/15/15 – 12) – 5/5 ; another possible top star
2B Marc Shaw (11/5/9 – 18/10/20) – 3/5 ; bats L and could be a star, maybe
LF/RF Tsuyoshi Ishikawa (12/14/14 – 17/20/20) – 4/5 ; very weak defense, power monster
P Jose García (9/7/6 – 18/8/19 – 11) .5/5
1B/2B/3B/SS Tracy Winters (8/3/6 – 12/7/11) – 1/4.5 ; infield joker
C Miguel Fuentes (9/5/7 – 11/8/12) – 2.5/5
P Nate Goodman (11/11/5 – 14/14/12 – 17) 3/5 ; also plays the outfield
LF/CF/RF Ben Cox (9/5/7 – 14/12/14) – 1/5 ; very good defense, strong across the board
1B Matt Workman (11/6/6 – 15/11/11) – 1/4.5
LF/CF/RF Armando Sanchez (11/6/8 – 15/9/12) – 3.5/5
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Old 05-26-2012, 01:48 PM   #9
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Game 1 against the Cyclones saw Alex Miranda on the mound for the Raccoons. He was a terrible #1 starter. He had a K/BB ratio of about .7 – that is right, he was getting 30% less K’s than BB’s. Here he walked five in the first four innings. Fortunately the Cyclones were groundballing a lot and the Raccoons turned a few double plays. While Miranda was not a bad pitcher overall, he ran up his pitch count like a rocket, often putting additional strain on my awful bullpen. Here, the Raccoons led 2-1 in the top 7th. The Cyclones had put runners on second and third with two outs. Up was Claudio Rojas, a .300 batter. Walking him would have brought up 2B Jeremiah Carrell, who led the majors in batting average at .395 – not good. Both were righties, as was Miranda. Miranda ensured me he had everything under control. Then he hurled a pitch three feet away from poor Maloney and a run scored from third to tie the game. The rest of the game was only explained to me afterwards, since right there my head exploded and I fainted. Kevin Hatfield came in as reliever in the eighth and scrambled his way through four frames with mostly good pitching. He was the only rested reliever available after the recent bashings, but his team did not score for him through the 11th inning. Ned Ray came in for the exhausted Hatfield in the 12th. Ray somehow made it through two, but the Cyclones scored in the top 14th and won 3-2. No offense from the Raccoons. My pitchers offered 10 BB’s and 3 K’s. Cyclones staff: 3 BB’s and 13 K’s.

The next day, Ken Miller no-hit the Cyclones for six innings, before Steve Mann broke the bid up with a leadoff homer in the top 7th. Miller went 7.1 innings of 2-hit, 1-run ball, before he was relieved by Coleman. Him and Ben Green actively tried to lose a 6-1 game, but weak grounders in between a few big Cyclone hits could only score three in the top 9th, denying Coleman and Green in their evil plot, Raccoons won 6-4, and Green even got one of those saves he so much despised. The last game was a disaster from the start. Berrios pitched ineffective and was relieved after six. Huber returned from the DL and got the managable assignment to pitch the seventh and eighth innings to ease him back in. He went .2 innings with three hits, two walks, and three runs. Gaston had to bail him out, before the Raccoons scored three in the bottom 7th to shorten the Cyclones’ lead to one run. Runners were on second and third, one out, and Gaston to bat. And I would have removed him for Hoyt Cook or a different pinch hitter. But I didn’t have that many pitchers left. A suicide squeeze was called. Gaston bunted the ball to third, Swift dashed in and clobbered into the catcher at home and – SAFE! Game tied, one out, runners on the corners. Another run scored on a Flores grounder, before Sullivan bolted a 2-run homer to cap off a 7-run inning. Raccoons led 8-6 after eight, where a tired Hatfield got the save after Green was once more unable to.

A very intense series there. We took two of three, but for a price, and that price was Pedro Sánz, who suffered an oblique strain and would be out for at least a week. I did not disable him.

The Dallas Stars had us for three. The Stars were good offensively and had the best bullpen in the Federal League, but their starters had some issues, so if we wanted to score against them, we had to so early. The offense did as told in the first game and we led 4-0 going into the bottom 9th. Coleman and Green failed miserably and Gaston was sent in at 4-1, bases loaded and two outs, inducing a flyout to Flores. Alex Miranda then went the distance in a loss in game 2. The Raccoons were the ones trailing 4-0 to enter the ninth and scored three in a rally, but then Ben Simon was doubled up with one out. Game 3 was the first start for Huber back in the rotation. He left after two innings, having surrendered three runs, with an oblique strain. There, the Raccoons led 4-3, but lost after 12 innings, 5-4. I had run out of good arms and bats very early in this game.

Also, the ABL’s first amateur draft! My two top choices Andres Ramirez and Daniel Hall were ranked #4 and #5 on the list of “most experts”, but I actually saw no star players in the three guys ahead of them. #1 rated was Bill Warren, a 20 yr old starter, who had evil movement, but was a walk machine with little control over his pitches. I was already fed up with those I had on my team. But I still was not sure which guy to pick between Ramirez and Hall. Since the Raccoons only had the #2 pick after the Milwaukee Loggers, I could still see whether the Loggers would choose one of them and then take the other myself. And be unhappy with him for the rest of my life.

Bill Warren became the first player in ABL history to be drafted, as the Loggers took him on with their #1 pick. This still left me between Ramirez and Hall. Oh come on, I can’t decide that! (sobs)

The Portland Raccoons eventually, after a great many tears, drafted the following players:

Round 1: Daniel Hall, 21, outfielder, projected to be one of the top hitters for years to come, with contact, power, and eye all there, plus above average defense; his bonus demand of $737,400 was the biggest in the draft [advanced signing is off, by the way]
Round 2: Jose Garcia, 19, pitcher, top stuff and control projection by my scouting department, although OSA is lower. I chose him over 2B Marc Shaw, who was later taken by the Canadiens.
Round 3: Matt Workman, 22, first baseman, above average throughout the board with few weaknesses
Round 4: Miguel Bojórquez, 22, pitcher (reliever) from Venezuela, top stuff projection
Round 5: Jorge Rodriguez, 22, pitcher, very good numbers throughout, but could be troubled by control weaknesses
Round 6: Ben Boyce, 23, catcher, decent hitter
Round 7: Jason White, 18, pitcher (reliever), good stuff
Round 8: Roman Nunez, 20, pitcher from Venezuela (he was the last guy on my shortlist to remain undrafted)
Round 9: Josh Case, 21, catcher, above average in defense
Round 10: David Callahan, 21, pitcher, good stuff, but little else

Ramirez was drafted by the Sioux Falls Warriors as the #14 pick (he remained in there for quite a bit so I was already getting all worked up he might still lie around unpicked when I came back to – but no). Five of my top players detailed in an earlier post remained in there after round 1 (which actually makes me worry about my judgement), and only Matt Workman remained in there for my third pick. OSA actually rated Workman quite bad, but my scouts were so glowing about him, I took him. Scouts can be fired.

Hall started at AA, but all others were sent to the A class team (which suddenly ballooned to 34 players). I axed three A class relievers with terrible numbers and terrible future. I didn’t mind, but they would not have that future on my team.

While the team was playing a series against the Boston Titans, I opened contract negotiations with Ed Sullivan. The versatile and well-hitting infielder had the biggest contract on the team ($440k), which was up after 1977. Sullivan, 32, wanted a 7-year contract worth over three million bucks. Well, no, thanks. I offered two years for what he already got (which was much too much in my opinion anyway), but we could not agree here. I was not going to lock up a guy til he’d be 40, eating up 20% of my budget. He was not THAT good.

The Raccoons lost the series to Boston, as the Titans scored first in each game, and every time with 3-run innings. We came back to take the middle game 6-3, but lost the other two by scores of 6-2 and 3-1, respectively.

Next up is a short road trip against the Indians and Condors, then a home stand facing the Aces and Canadiens. We will be on the road during the last week before the All Star game, traveling east for Milwaukee and New York.
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Old 05-27-2012, 10:06 PM   #10
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The first Indians game would have been Huber’s to start, but he was still laboring that oblique strain. Ned Ray came in and got a no-decision. Wally Gaston balked in the winning run for the Indians in the eighth, as we lost 2-1. The Indians were still scoring very little, but the Raccoons were nice people and helped them wherever they could. Pedro Sánz came back in the middle game and launched a solo homer to signal he was healthy, but it was the Raccoons’ only run in a 3-1 loss. They salvaged the series with a 4-2 win in the last game. Indianapolis was a team that was awful to play – they had the potential to lock you down completely. Only 13 runs combined were scored in these three games.

We were now tied again with the Loggers at 26-46 in last place in the CL North – the only teams below 30 wins. Of course, our pythagorean difference was -6, so the Raccoons were really a 32-40 team, which certainly sounds much more friendly than 26-46.

The series in Tijuana. Miranda walked three in the first inning, and Sullivan committed two errors at 3B, and more misery added up to a 5-4 loss in the first game. Stanton Coleman suffered a strained elbow and was put on the 15-day DL. Bruce Wright was called up from AAA. Game 2, with Matt Huber on the mound, saw a Tijuana grand slam with two outs in the bottom 1st, then Huber loaded the bases again with one out in the second, walked in a run, and was then sent on a bus to Anchorage by me. After Hatfield pitched 1.2 innings to contain the fire and struck out two in the third (2 K’s in one inning is phenomenal for this pitching staff), Wright was sent in in the fourth. He hit the first batter he faced. The rest of the game is so far away from me, I can only see it through a thick nebula. Must have been the tears in my eyes and everything. Raccoons lost 6-5, I was told, but out-hit the Condors 14-7. Yay. As yay as losing the last game also by one run, 2-1. We were now seven under our pythagorean record of 33-42.

The team had lost six of seven, and nine of eleven now. They had lost six of those by one run, and two by two runs. This was really nagging on me. There were no clutch performers on the team, not one. The Condors series had put up the Raccoons with two opportunities where they loaded the bases with no outs. How many runs did they score in those two innings? Zero. The Aces were in town first on a 7-game home stint, playing three against them and four against the Canadiens later in the week. We had won the first series against the Aces 2-1, and were 3-4 against the Canadiens.

The series against the Aces was another horrible one. After losses of 6-5 and 3-1 scores in the first two games, Matt Huber took the mound in the last game. He walked two, plunked one, threw a wild one, and allowed five runs in .2 innings. Obviously, Anchorage had not been far enough for that bucket full of - … now the Raccoons came back to jump on Aces starter Munoz for five runs in the bottom 4th, and after eight they led 8-7. Lefty Ken Miller had pitched the eighth. I had just promoted Kevin Hatfield to closer, but he was a righty, and Tony Clark, Harlan Quick, and Rob Dawson the first three batters up in the top 9th were left handed batters. Miller had been perfect in the eighth. He remained in there. He walked Quick, and with two outs and righties to come, Hatfield got in to get the final out from Alfredo Gomez.

Raccoons had lost their last five series since going a good 2-1 against Cincinnati. Next were the Canadiens, which had beaten us 2-1 in the last series before beating the Cyclones. You know what’s most depressing? We’ve not swept a series all year so far. We were still tied with the Loggers, now at 27-51, who were also in another terrible stretch.

The team won the first of four against the Canadiens on a 7-6 squeeze, where Hatfield gave up two runs in the top 9th, the first runs scored on him in three weeks and 14 innings, and the first earned runs in almost seven weeks and 26.2 innings. Would the Raccoons at least get in a streak of three wins? Of course not. Horrid pitching and an outright pathetic performance by catcher Darryl Maloney, who passed a ball, had an error and botched two throws on stolen bases (three in total), was waving the Canadiens around and we lost 10-7. Game 3 was just the same. Miranda walked Andrew Bell in the top 1st, who then set out to steal second, and R.J. Sanderson threw the ball way past the base into centerfield. Bell then promptly scored on a flyout. Next, Pedro Sánz was struck in the head by an errant pitch by Alejandro Mora and had to be replaced by Jorge Lopez. Miranda was signaled to smack Mora when he came to bat in the top 2nd. The mission was accomplished. The Raccoons also lost 10-3, with eight runs on Miranda, who got his tenth loss, which put him in a tie for fourth in the majors. Then came Matt Huber, whose last two outings had been shameful. He pitched eight scoreless, but was credited with the two runs that crossed in the ninth for the Canadiens (walk and a plunked batter, what else), while the Raccoons offense produced some oomph for three homers in a 7-2 win. Sánz had played this game, but he was not really himself and would possibly have to be sidelined with symptoms of a mild concussion. To add insult to injury, CF Johan Dolder was injured when he made wall contact on catching a fly ball and would miss at least a week.

The injuries to Dolder and Sánz were extra unfortunate since this left me with no spare outfielders. Neither one needed to be disabled either, but the next week or so would be tough. I needed an outfielder in any case. The seventh infielder on the team, Hector Mendez, was sent back to AAA, he had hit .167 anway, and brought up was LF/RF Luis Hernandez. I could have used David Correa again, which would have saved me $45,000 but if I would have wanted a majors .000 hitter, I would have sent out my grandma. She’s running the bases pretty well with the new hip joints.

Next up was an important one, four games in Milwaukee against the troubled Loggers for the troubled Raccoons – let’s see who’s troubled the most! 1.0 game ahead of them meant that we could easily move 5.0 ahead of last place in the 4-game series. Or go bust.

Outfielder Jorge Lopez subbed pretty well for Sánz, grand slamming in the top 2nd of the first game in Milwaukee. Pitcher Juan Berrios bobbled a ball while covering first, which ultimately cost two runs, and pitched erratically in this game and while the Raccoons led 9-3 after four innings, Berrios got himself yanked and replaced by Ned Ray, who promptly gave up a grand slam and got the game tied in the bottom 5th. I was told that I was screaming at that point and my head was glowing red. The Raccoons lost 10-9 after another pitcher error (by Ken Miller) in the bottom 8th. Scream. Scream. Must scream. So much.

Armando Padilla won game 2 with seven scoreless frames of 4-hit, 2-walk ball, enabling the Raccoons to beat 0-12 Mike Anderson comfortably with moderate offense, 5-0. The next day the Raccoons wrecked Loggers pitching for TEN runs in the first three innings. Alex Miranda gave up six over three innings and was removed for somebody less incompetent. Raccoons won 13-9. Sánz returned to the lineup in the last Loggers game, while Simon got a day of rest. With unpredictable Matt Huber on the mound, everything could happen in game 4. The Loggers scored eight runs off Huber and short-lived reliever Wright. That was it. Huber had to go, one way or the other. A 6-run fifth inning brought the Raccoons back into the game, as Darryl Maloney grand slammed with two outs. Trailing the Loggers 8-7, the Raccoons tied it 9-9 in the seventh, only for Ben Jenkins to allow another run. Sánz homered to tie it again at 10-10, which sent the game to extra innings. Ken Miller came in in the bottom 10th and never got an out. Raccoons lost 11-10.

I signed a contract extension with Brett Justice during this week. He was out until the next spring, but he was a strong pitcher. He wanted an increased salary (of course). We struck a deal for five years worth just over $800k. Getting rid of Huber was impossible. Nobody wanted to take him on. I rebuilt the rotation with Berrios moving to #2 and Ray getting back in at #3. Huber was demoted to mop-up duties, as the Crusaders waited for us.

In New York, hitting suddenly was an issue again. Game 1 was a 4-1 loss. Who plated the Raccoons’ only run? Pitcher Juan Berrios, with a solo homer to center. Tells you a lot about the team. We also lost SS Greg Swift to a back injury for about a week, throwing another one onto the injury pile. With another 8-5 loss in the next game (including another grand slam by Maloney, maybe he should bat cleanup after all…) and another 6-3 loss behind the annoyance that was Alex Miranda, the Raccoons were tied up again with the Loggers for last in time for the All Star break.

The Raccoons had three All Stars: SS Ben Simon, LF Jose Flores, and RF Pedro Sánz. But they had not a single pitcher that could be trusted. Goal number 1 for the off season would be to acquire at the very least two solid starters. Maybe I could trade for one through Wyatt Johnston, who wanted to be traded away anyway. I have a terrible job ...

In other news:
June 23 – Salem’s Julio Bray tosses a 1-hit shutout against the Gold Sox
June 25 – Oklahomas’s Cristo Perez shuts out the Canadiens, allowing only two hits and walking two.
June 29 – Canadian hurler Salah Brunet of the Indianapolis Indians no-hit the Tijuana Condors, a walk to Rich Savage and an error by Indians 1B Cristo Perez being everything that kept him from perfection!
June 29 – John Dorsey, a starting pitcher for the Topeka Buffaloes, suffers shoulder inflammation and is out for the season. He was 9-4 with an 4.06 ERA.
July 2 – Juan Medine, who led the majors in home runs with 17 AND in batting average at .395, suffers a broken kneecap, ending his season and robbing the Richmond Rebels of their run producer.
July 9 – The Salem Wolves send 41 yr old outfielder Alejandro Rivas to Charlotte for SS Dave Martel, 27, and a prospect. Rivas was hitting over .300 in limited playtime, while Martel was hitting at a .290 clip
July 10 – A strained ACL would sideline the Pittsburgh Miners’ power hitting catcher Sam Murphy for about six weeks. He’s batting .275 with 11 homers.

Next up: home stint against Loggers and Indians, then road trip for the Knights and Falcons.
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Old 05-29-2012, 05:38 PM   #11
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The Federal League wiped the Continental League 15-5 in the first All Star game. Ben Simon homered in a pinch-hitting appearance. Sánz also pinch hit (for a K), while Flores was 0-2 after pinch-hitting and playing in rightfield.

For the home series against the Loggers Johan Dolder came back into the lineup in CF. Swift was still out. The Raccoons had exactly eight hits in the first game, one by each position player that started the game. Berrios did not hit anything but air, but at least limited the damage he did to five runs (three earned) in 6.2 innings. The defense committed three errors, two of them two-base throwing errors. We still managed to win 6-5. Ned Ray pitched to start game 2 and got himself wrecked once more. Why can’t you idiots just ONCE pitch a solid series??? Raccoons were downed for five runs in the first inning, and 9-2 overall.

But it was the third game in the series that really killed my mood. The Raccoons lost 4-0, shut out by Mike Anderson, who came into the game 0-14 and with an ERA over 7 … and that lifeless bunch of suckers was shut out by that guy. THAT guy. I $&%#ing can’t believe it!!

With a 6-2 consolation win in the fourth game of the series (I could feel, my laptop was absolutely intent to please me, after I had already opened the window and had placed him conveniently close to it), this series ended up tied again, just like the one ten days before, and we and the Loggers remained in a tie for last place.

The trade deadline was approaching fast. I tried to make something work to get a starting pitcher to shore up my horrible rotation. Offensively, we were 6th in the Continental League, which was okay (for playing .500 at least), but in defense, we were 10th, and the pitchers were to blame.

One candidate was Michael Ball from the Gold Sox, who was a tad above average, but was 35 and was earning a lot of money. The Knights actually would give him up, but had their demands. I was willing to readily pair two of the following: Ben Green, Matt Huber, Ed Sullivan (whose contract was up and who refused to resign), and Wayne Johnston (who wanted to be traded), except for packaging the last two together, but no combo worked for the Knights, understandably. I had a possibility to trade Sullivan for Jorge Velazquez from the Cyclones, but that was an infielder and was not entirely helpful. Oh dear, why can’t anything work in here …!?

The Ball deal was not going to work out. I then turned my attention to their #3 starter, 28 yr old Christopher Powell, who was 7-6 with a 3.99 ERA. His stuff left some things to be desired, but he had strong movement and control. The Gold Sox, last in the FL West, were ready to swallow Matt Huber, if I bundled a starter prospect in the deal we had no high opinion of anyway. They even offered another prospect back for him. It even saved $50k for this year and some $100k in the next. DEAL!!

Powell was moved into the #2 slot, Berrios down to #3, Ray to #4, and Padilla took over mop up duties. Powell would not start until the next series in Atlanta, having just pitched the day before the deal was completed on July 18.

But first came the Indians, whom I so hated to play. Salah Brunet and Juan Berrios went against each other, the only two pitchers to no-hit a team so far. Both fanned seven in seven in this game (this sentence is correct as it is), and allowed only three (Brunet) and four (Berrios) hits – Berrios was the losing pitcher. The Indians pushed two across in the first inning and that was it, a 2-0 loss. A question next: how many runs will you give up on 19 hits, seven walks and four errors. Answer: FOURTEEN. Game 2 was a stinging 14-1 loss to the Indians, who hardly ever scored, but an abyssmal performance by the Raccoons makes things possible. Ray, Jenkins, Green, and Miller were all hit for multiple runs, only Wally Gaston pitched two scoreless to end the game. I hate those guys. I hate those guys!!

The Raccoons won the last game in the series by the score of 10-0. No errors, seven hits, one walk, but seven strikeouts for my pitchers. Let’s just say, they had been pretty motivated after I seemed to have publicly declared after the last game that the next guy to botch a game would be personally strangulated by me. I didn’t even remember saying that. I read it in the paper this morning.

The next four series were all against the CL South, against the Knights, Falcons, Thunder, and finally Condors. We had a grand record of 3-15 against these teams so far, with no wins at all against the Knights (0-3) and Condors (0-6). The only other team the Raccoons had not won against so far, but had already played, were the Bayhawks: 0-6 there. The lineup needed rebuilding, since we had suffered two injuries in the last game against Indianapolis. Jose Flores had a sore shoulder and would better be relegated to pinch hitting duties, while Darryl Maloney was unavailable after a collision sliding into base, diagnosis pending. Anderson took LF for Flores, while Sanderson was catching. Swift batted leadoff. No callup for another catcher yet. (Maloney eventually was diagnosed with a strained PCL and would miss about a month, sending him to the DL. 23 yr old Sam Moran was called up from AAA three days later.)

Christopher Powell made his first start for the Raccoons to lead off the Knights series in Atlanta. He went eight frames of 7-hit, 1-run ball. The run was unearned. The game was 1-1 through seven, before the Raccoons loaded the bags with two out in the top 8th. Tim Anderson came up and became the hero of the day, being plunked for a run. Hatfield failed to close the game, loading the bases with two outs, instead getting a hold, when Ben Green (of all people) got the final out to save the 2-1 victory. Of course, more than two wins in a row would be awful, so the team K’ed fourteen times the next day to lose 3-2. We also lost Ken Miller to a sprained ankle, of course. Bruce Wright was called up again. Ned Ray pitched reasonably well in the rubber game. The Raccoons led 5-1 through the middle innings before the bullpen glitched again, but still held on to a 5-4 win, barely. It was the first series win for the Raccoons in six weeks.

Alex Miranda pitched a good game and batted in three in a complete game 5-2 win over the Falcons in Charlotte to start that season. C Sam Moran got his first majors hit and also scored one on a sac fly. Of course they lost the next, since we were not allowed to win more than two in a row, 4-2 after a 2-run homer off our new pitcher Christopher Powell in the eighth, before Berrios pitched a complete game as well to finish the series for a 4-2 win.

Trade deadline coming in, and teams started to encroach me to get Juan Berrios. Never ever. The Rebels also offered infielder Bernardo Berrera for my reliever Ben Jenkins. Berrera was certainly not bad, with some power, but he would not be able to beat out my established infield with Johnston, Simon, Swift, and Sullivan. Hmmm. Nooo.

We went home for only one series against Oklahoma City. To make a very sad story very short, the Raccoons were swept 6-0, 2-1 (10 innings there), and 5-3, while they struck out about a thousand times over the course of the series.

This ended the month of July, only two more months to go in this nightmare. We would play the Condors away to start August, followed by a home stint against the Titans and Loggers, before we would get the last interleague matchups of the season against the Wolves and the Buffaloes. Yeah, Wolves, we’ll see who rules Oregon then!

In other news:
July 17 – Billy Robinson of the Indians shuts out the Canadiens, allowing only one hit.
July 22 – Juan Correa and the Bayhawks shut out the Loggers 2-0, marking already the 20th win for Correa this season. His ERA is 0.82! His nickname is “Mauler” for a reason.
July 24 – The Bayhawks’ Rafael Lopez (.318, 5 HR, 51 RBI) suffered a strained hip muscle, putting him on the 15-day DL.
July 27 – The Loggers trade outfielder Dan Nelson to the Capitals in exchange for reliever Henry Peters. Peters had a reputation for eating batters, with a 0.91 ERA in just below 30 IP.
July 27 – The Denver Gold Sox acquired 1B Samuel Serra (.337, 7 HR, 70 RBI) in a deal for 3B Rich Ploughman, who didn’t have very impressive stats, but maybe the Dalls Stars saw something in him the Gold Sox didn’t.
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Old 05-31-2012, 05:47 PM   #12
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To start a new month against a team we had an 0-6 record against was not too promising. We started off well, though, facing the Condors away on August 1. Sullivan hit a rare triple in the top 1st and was scored by Sánz. Juan Berrios rode that 1-0 lead for a while. The Condors jammed the Raccoons in the bottom 8th, scoring a run to cut their deficit in half. With the bases loaded, Kevin Hatfield came in to record a 4-out save in the 2-1 win for the Raccoons, fanning two. Sánz had gone 3-4 in a bid to get back into the batting title race, where he had recently slumped to below .330, almost 20 points behind the leaders in the category. The Raccoons were then walked seven times and hit five times against Condors starter Gerardo Dias. And still lost, 3-2. Nothing chained together, ever, during the whole game. Ned Ray was good for his standards, but that was less than enough. The last game was a messy affair, with three errors in the first two innings combined and six in total (four for the Condors). Neither side got up significantly for seven. The Raccoons led 3-2 then, but added two in the eighth, and then another three against Joseph Meyer in the ninth to win 8-2, taking two of three against the Condors.

We went home to face the Titans for four and then the Loggers for three. We had played the Titans only seven times so far in the first four months of the season, so they would be frequent opponents down the road. Of course, the Raccoons had been beaten so far, having lost five of seven.

Game 1 vs. the Titans was scoreless through eight innings. Then Stanton Coleman came in and served up a 2-run homer that lost the Raccoons the game in the 2-0 Titans win. I had seen enough of Coleman and his 6.92 ERA – he was sent off to AAA, and another reliever in Jose Vazquez was called up (he had been one of the pitchers I had sent down when I set this game up after I had signed new pitchers). The struggles against the Titans continued. Key to their lineup was leadoff batter LF Fernando Dominguez, who led the majors in steals, and the Raccoons were unable to contain him. He scored thrice in the second game, plus Berrios was rapped for five runs in the second inning, as the Raccoons lost 8-5. But if there was one thing weak about the Titans team it was the bullpen and the Raccoons got to that successfully in the third game, turning starter Jorge Martinez upside down early, then continued to score against the troubled Titans pen, going away with an 11-1 win. Ed Sullivan was 3-4 with two homers, and Sam Moran hit an unlikely grand slam, which was a prelude to a game 4 win in equally strange circumstances. Alex Miranda had given up two runs early and we were 2-1 behind in the bottom 6th. Moran made the first out and Miranda, who was batting soundly below .100, came up to bat. He bombed the ball out of the yard to tie the game and spark a 4-run inning that placed enough distance between the Raccoons and the Titans to win the game, 5-3. Vazquez got his first time on the mound, retiring the Titans 1-2-3 in the eighth, including two strikeouts.

The Raccoons opened the series against the Loggers with a 2-0 win. Powell struck out eight in 7.2 innings, but the Raccoons lost both Ed Sullivan and Pedro Sánz to injuries in collisions on base – both in a play where they had just batted in a runner. Sullivan’s injury was a very mild groin strain, and he was available again the next day, but Sánz had hurt his ankle and was at best available for pinch hitting here and there. Game 2, and we lost Jorge Lopez, who had just replaced Sánz in rightfield. He was hit by a pitch in the foot, breaking it. While the Raccoons rallied from a 2-run deficit in the seventh to scored eight runs in the bottom 8th and won 11-4, we slowly became ever thinner populated in the outfield, with Lopez going to the DL now. The not-hitting David Correa was recalled from AAA.

We had a chance for something new here: finally sweep a series. The Raccoons led 5-1 after six innings, but we needed four pitchers to go through the seventh, and it was not pretty. Tied 5-5, Wyatt Johnston became the match winner, scoring a run on a sac fly. Johnston homered twice and batted in all six runs in the 6-5 Raccoons victory – the first sweep in Raccoons history (well, the first successful at least) was complete, done August 8-10, 1977!

The sweep of the Loggers also assured us of a winning season matchup against at least one opponent that was not an interleague rival, since we were now 10-5 against them. We also had won five in a row now, a tie with our season high, and were looking at something special now: our interleague series in Salem, just up the road. Unfortunately we had a pile of injured players to replace. MR Justice, MR Miller, C Maloney, RF J. Lopez, and RF Sánz were all either disabled or in the case of Sánz day to day.

Game 1 against the Wolves was won mainly on a base-clearing double by Ben Simon in the top 4th. From there, both teams only scored an odd run here and there and the Raccoons held their neighbours off in a 6-3 win, getting our streak to six wins. The streak ended there: the Raccoons lost 3-2 the next day. Two first inning runs agains the otherwise solid Christopher Powell was already almost all the Wolves needed to tie the series. The last game became a pitchers duel. Juan Berrios held the Wolves down into the eighth inning with only a single run as support. Hatfield blew the save in the bottom of the ninth, as the Wolves tied the game with two outs and sent it to extra innings. Four scoreless innings were delivered by Vazquez, before the lefty Padilla came in. The first four batters he would face were all lefties. All of them reached base, bringing in the winning run for the Wolves for the 2-1 after 14 innings.

Wyatt Johnston had gone 9-19 with three homers and nine RBI the last week and became Player of the Week in the Continental League.

It was the middle of August and I went into extension talks with a few more players: Darryl Maloney, Ben Simon, and Freddy Lopez. Simon was without a doubt the most important of them. All of them were arbitration eligible, but I wanted to lock down Simon for long, very long, and for very cheap. Lopez was only backup in the infield, but he was reliable and although a younger player might come in cheaper, I preferred him, at least for another year. I had no promising prospects in AAA anyway to replace him. Maloney was the least terrible of my catchers anyway. Let’s see how these go, then I will hit on Powell, my new starter, who seems to be quite reliable. He was only 2-3 since joining the team, but with an ERA of 2.55, and I didn’t dare to ask for more with my sub-.400 team.

We started a 2-week home stint now with the last interleague series against the Topeka Buffaloes to lead off there. The Canadiens, Indians, and Aces would all come to town after that. We would end the month with a series in Atlanta, the last one against the Knights in ’77. Miller and Maloney would both be able to come back during the first week at home. The question was whether Miller should go back on the majors roster at all. Maloney of course was welcome, since both Sanderson and Moran were hitting very weakly – even for catchers.

In other news:
August 1 – William Williams of the Atlanta Knights shuts out the Loggers on two hits in a 15-0 blowout.
August 5 – The Crusaders’ SS Ralph Nixon suffers a thumb injury, benching him for two weeks. Nixon was a hot candidate for the batting title and had 79 RBIs.
August 6 – Boston Titans staff confirmed that 3B Riley Simon was out for the season with a broken finger. Simon had hit .340 thus far and had been a constant threat with the bat.
August 6 – Jorge Alaniz and the Richmond Rebels shut out the Capitals 2-0, as Alaniz goes the distance and allows only two hits.
August 12 – Sioux Falls’ Chris Smith hits 5-5 against Vancouver in a 16-2 wipeout. He only lacks a triple to hit for the cycle.

Look at the FL West – that thing is wide open.
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Old 06-02-2012, 02:22 PM   #13
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The Buffaloes series started off with a never-ending struggle that went for 16 innings, five and a half hours. Back 3-0 early, the Raccoons only tied the game down to their final out in the bottom ninth, then walked off seven grueling innings later when Anderson and Sullivan doubled back-to-back with no outs in the bottom 16th. The Raccoons lost Johan Dolder, who was hit by a pitch from Lowell “Wacky” Booth and broke a finger, disabling him for up to six weeks, possibly also ending his season. With the pens thoroughly wrecked, Alex Miranda was tasked with going deep and well in the second game. He failed and allowed all runs in the 6-3 loss. The Raccoons then left a bunch of runners in scoring position in the last game, plus Tim Anderson thrown out at home in the third, in a 2-0 complete game loss to Powell, concluding interleague play for this year. Overall we had gone 8-10 against the Federal League. None of the six series had been a sweep.

Another injury to compensate somehow. There were also five injured players on my AAA and AA teams, further reducing my options. I would open the Canadiens series one guy short, then activate Maloney for game 2 and go with three catchers for two days, then get things in order again the following off day.

Weak offense continued into the weekend series with the Canadiens, which started with another 2-0 loss due to no offense from the team. It took the returning catcher Darryl Maloney to break up the dry spell for the Raccoons as he batted in Anderson in the second inning. The Raccoons still lost 7-3, and they also lost Pedro Sánz AGAIN, after three days in the lineup. This time he banged into the wall catching a flyball, and hurt his shoulder. He went to the 15-day DL. This posed a lot of problems, as I was left with only four outfielders. Worse, this included .000 Correa and in AAA I also had only four healthy outfielders. Ed Sullivan was an emergency leftfield option. I wanted to bring somebody up anyway, and I went with Hector Mendez, the infielder. We ended up swept by the Canadiens, losing 8-4 in the last game.

Simon, Maloney and Lopez signed their new contracts. This left Flores and Powell to resign. And to decide on Green, who had lowered his ERA considerably since getting out of the closer role and more into a seventh / eighth inning role.

And here we were in another losing streak of already five games and the Indians came up, and even worse, we started the series against Salah Brunet (of no-hit fame). The Canadian started with three perfect innings, while the Indians piled on Powell for four runs, but then Brunet glitched and allowed four in the fourth to tie the game. And there came eight innings of dreadful deadlock. The Indians loaded the bases in the eighth, but Gaston got out of it. The decision came in the 13th inning. Sullivan singled to start it off, Wyatt Johnston flew out, Ben Simon walked. Martin Hansen then threw a wild pitch that advanced Sullivan and Simon into scoring position. The Indians went on to walk Greg Swift intentionally (he was 4-5 that night). Bases loaded, one out, Tim Anderson grounds into short and Sullivan is thrown out at home. Bases loaded, two outs, Maloney up. And in an anticlimactic ending, Hansen walks him on five pitches, forcing in the winning run, and ending our losing skid. Phew!

Juan Berrios didn’t feel well before game 2, he had been plagued by migraine for a few days now, but he wanted to start anyway. He was mostly okay on the mound, but struggled with control. Five early Raccoons runs gave a little cushion, but things derailed in the fifth. Luis Hernandez was injured on a play and had to be removed from the game – that was ANOTHER rightfielder out of action. We came out tied 5-5 from the fifth and Berrios was removed for Bruce Wright, who surrendered a home run in the sixth that ended up being the winning run as the Raccoons lost 6-5. We got to the Indians 7-1 in the last game, winning that series.

The Aces were next for the final series against them and the final series on this home stint. Injuries kept piling up as reliever Bruce Wright threw only three pitches in the first game, a 5-3 loss, then left with a painful stiff neck. Aww, little girl has a boo-boo. Arf. The Raccoons were swept with further scores of 5-1 (3 hits of our own) and 1-0 (2 hits of our own). Seems like the Aces are the Indians of the CL South.

We’d finish the month on the road in Atlanta, with a 4-game series in Boston starting on September 1. Outfielders Lopez and Sánz are to come back sometimes during or after the Titans series. I need them. Really.

In other news:
August 19 – William Williams of the Knights 1-hits the Aces in a 4-0 win.
August 21 – Crusader Bruce Farrell has 20 consecutive games with a hit.
August 23 – The Titans lose their power bat Shawn Gilmore (16 HR) to a broken finger until around the end of the season.
August 24 – Farrell’s streak ends at 22, while Brian Adams of the Titans now has 20 games with a hit.
August 27 – Adams’ hitting streak also ends at 22 against the Bayhawks.
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Old 06-03-2012, 03:05 PM   #14
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Last series against the Knights, who were on a 5-game winning streak. The Raccoons scored first on a passed ball, but then lost Ned Ray to a dead arm early in the game. The injuries kept piling. The passed ball run by Greg Swift was all the runs scored in the game, and the Raccoons won 1-0 on strong relief performances by Jenkins, Gaston, and Hatfield, who combined for 4.2 innings with two hits, no walks and four strikeouts. The Raccoons went through another stretch of poor hitting now with very few hits and close to no home runs. They lost the next game 4-3, with the tying run not proceeding past first in either of the last three innings. Miranda went the distance in that game to conserve the pen to accommodate for Ned Ray, who’d miss a start and would have to be replaced by Padilla. Game 3, and an early heavy rain chased both starters out in the first innings. The Raccoons loaded the bases in four of the first six innings, once with two, twice with one, and once with no outs. How many runs did they get in from there? Two. Pathetic. No clutch hitting to find here. The Raccoons still won 5-1 thanks to sheer volume of hits and walks.

We went to Boston for four games. The series and September began here, and we could have called up some AAA players or so – if there only had been one worth taking. My AAA and AA teams were already bled thin, too. We didn’t call up anybody yet.

Game 1 at the Titans was a 7-3 win. The Raccoons plated six in one inning, but mostly by a costly error of the Titans, which made five runs unearned. The Titans got their own 6-run inning in the next game in smashing Armando Padilla, who was just misplaced as a starter, this became more and more clear. Raccoons went down 9-4. The Titans lost 1B Ken Adams to a quad strain sustained in crashing into second base, his season was over.

Game 3 was a 2-1 loss in which the Raccoons dropped so many chances to score a run or two, it was a shame. We could have easily won 4-2 or 5-2 with a clutch hit here or there. Swift suffered a minor injury to miss the last game of the series. Mendez subbed for him at 2B, moving Simon to SS. Simon struck out in his first at bat, but later was walked intentionally twice with runners on second and third. Powell gave up eight hits but only one run, as the Raccoons tied the series with a 4-1 win. Sánz was 1-3 with a walk in his return.

We went home for just one series against the division-leading Crusaders. By now, we were fairly certain of finishing fifth in the inaugural season, 7.0 games behind the Canadiens, and 10.5 ahead of the Loggers. Now the goal was to save some dignity and avoid 100 losses (we were scratching right along that line at the moment) and in the best of worlds rally to finish above .400.

Another thing I was monitoring closely now was my budget. I had eaten up my $5.2M budget to the point - $9,200 were projected to remain by season’s end. I’m that good. However, with a bunch of home games remaining, we’d make almost $7M in revenue, generating a huge profit. I was hoping a bunch that this would be reflected in next year’s budget. Right now it was actually projected to decrease by $100k...

The Crusaders opened the series with a 4-2 win, outhitting us mightily, and it was a small wonder that we weren’t tagged for ten or more runs. Ed Sullivan was injured crashing into second and would miss a few games with a sore ankle. Ned Ray was sharp in game 2, allowing only four hits and one run, and led the team in total bases (3), going 2-2 at the plate as well! The Raccoons won 6-1. Game 3 was a nail-biter. The Crusaders scored first against Miranda, but the Raccoons tied the game 1-1 in the third. Three scoreless followed, before the top 7th. Johnston bobbled a ball that put a runner on first with no outs and while Miranda pitched well, he loaded the bases with two outs. Ben Green came in against lefty Hector Atilano to match up with him – and walked him on four straight to get the Crusaders ahead again. The next batter grounded out, and Darryl Maloney turned the game around with a 2-run homer in the bottom 7th. Green was next and I let him ground out, to face the next two lefty batters in the top 8th. He struck out the side. Up 3-2, Hatfield came in to close it. Groundout, walk, groundout: runner on second with two outs, but up was Bruce Farrell (.375). He was waved through intentionally to rather face Atilano – whom Hatfield walked to load the bases. He had to go through Ralph Nixon, who on a 2-2 count bashed a ball out to deep right. Sánz made an incredible leap to catch it and the Raccoons actually WON the series against the Crusaders! Whoooo!! While Sánz made the most memorable catch in the game, Flores in LF had actually done more defensive work in the game with at least four close calls – all reeled in. Flores was the real defensive cornerstone, and I had to get him to resign with the team for next season – and beyond.

We were now to face the Loggers in Milwaukee for the final series against them, then would return home for our final home stint of the season. Christopher Powell tossed a 2-hit shutout (with five walks) against the Loggers, but his performance was vastly overshadowed by the Raccoons offense: they tore apart the Loggers, 17-0! Freddy Lopez was 6-6, a new Continental League record, with two RBI, and Swift and Anderson had four hits each.

The more depressing was the next game. The Raccoons out-hit the Loggers 12-6, but didn’t get the runs across and lost 2-1. Ben Simon had one of his famous bases loaded-two outs-swinging strikeouts in the top 9th. Everybody rallied to down the Loggers 11-5 in the final game. They really got more runs than they deserved, involving two scratch hits and a throwing error in the bottom 9th alone.

The final home stint of the season was upon the Raccoons, going against the Titans and the last two interdivision matchups, the Condors and the Bayhawks (against whom we were a dreading 0-6).

In other news:
September 3 – Topeka’s Ramon Borjon, leading the majors with 23 homers, suffers a broken leg and is out for the season.
September 9 – 2B Alfredo Soriano of the Vancouver Canadiens extends his hit streak to 20 games.
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Old 06-05-2012, 06:00 PM   #15
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Scoreless through six, the first Titans game began to wage back and forth from the seventh. The Titans scored first, but Johnston and Simon homered back-to-back to turn it 2-1 in the bottom 7th. Jenkins and Wright instantly blew it getting tagged for four runs in the eighth. Raccoons scored two in the bottom 8th, and tied it to go to extra innings. Vazquez held the Titans at bay, before Maloney singled in Simon in the bottom 10th to help the Raccoons walk off 6-5. This made the Raccoons peek above .400 for the first time since April 9, when they had been 2-3!

Game 2 was 5-0 win on home runs only: Sullivan launched a 3-run shot in the third inning and a solo homer in his next plate appearance, and Sánz also solo homered late in the game. Sullivan hit another solo home run in the last game of the series, as the Raccoons swept the Titans to my complete surprise with a 6-3 win!

Here we were, sparkling with enthusiasm. Little did we know about the cold shower awaiting us by the Falcons. The first game was a close 2-1 loss, while the Raccoons led 3-2 in the top 9th. Hatfield blew the save when he surrendered a 2-run home run to Jeff Campbell. The Raccoons loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom 9th – no run came across as Flores struck out and Cook, pinch hitting for Hatfield, grounded to doom two. Oh, the agony. Powell allowed one unearned run in two innings before leaving with a hurt ankle and took the loss as the Raccoons were swept with another loss, 3-0, with pathetic offense throughout the series.

And now the Bayhawks. Winless against them so far, the Raccoons were beaten 7-1 to start the series. Game 2 was a close one. The Raccoons scored one early, but had the game tied in the fourth. Ben Simon homered to make it 2-1 in the seventh, his 20th long ball of the season, before Hatfield had the second save in a row blow up in his face, when everything went against him in the top 9th, including a bunt base hit right there where nobody could get it. Hatfield stayed in until the 13th inning with no rested relievers available anymore (I had burned through three in the seventh to match up the Bayhawks batters…) and took the loss in the 3-2 defeat by San Francisco. In the bottom 12th Hatfield had represented the winning run on second, then third base, but nobody had batted him in. Again, no clutch performers on the team.

The Raccoons scored three runs in the bottom 1st to assist Miranda in the last game. Up 3-1, Miranda was chased after four by rain and would not qualify for the win. The Bayhawks scored one against Vazquez, before Wally Gaston got in the game in the eighth. He was solid in the eighth and with the score still 3-2 entered the ninth. The Bayhawks tied the game and won after 11 innings, 4-3, and thus completed the total annihilation of the Raccoons in 1977, nine games, nine wins for San Francisco.

The Raccoons in turn had lost six in a row since sweeping the Titans. They had a road trip remaining for Indianapolis, Vancover, and New York. Remember the minimalistic goal in there: avoid 100 losses, so that meant to win 3 of 10.

In other news:
September 14 – Alfonso Soriano of the Canadiens goes to 25 games of hitting.
September 17 – The Aces chill Soriano to end his hit streak at 26.
September 19 – 1B Pedro Diaz of the Scorpions has hit in 20 straight games.
September 20 – Diaz’ streak ends by the hand of the Richmond Rebels at 20 games.
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Old 06-07-2012, 05:19 PM   #16
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The Raccoons started just perfectly into the Indians series, as Christopher Powell struck out six and walked one in a 3-hit shutout. We had 14 hits in the 5-0 win. The next day we won 7-4 (4 RBI by Pedro Sánz), which helped the Crusaders to clinch the division and advance as the first team to the post season. To cap off the series, Ned Ray went on the mound. He was perfect the first time through the Indians lineup, but walked Ramon Lafrosia in the fourth. He still carried a no-hitter into the sixth, before he was rapped for four hits in succession. The Raccoons scored four in the seventh to get ahead again and won it 5-2. Indians swept, and thus 100 losses were avoided!

Going to Vancouver was another chilly experience. We were held to two hits in the first eight innings and didn’t score until Johnston bashed a 2-run homer in the ninth. Too little, too late, 5-2 loss. Powell’s penultimate game of the season was up next. He had a hard fight and allowed two homers for five runs in five innings. The Raccoons were down 5-1 after six, but chained together in the seventh to tie it. Then in the eighth, they loaded the bases again with one out. Hoyt Cook stepped in to pinch hit and grand slammed the Raccoons to a 9-5 lead – it was his first home run in the majors. The Canadiens hit two solo homers off Wright in the eighth, but he held on to get the 9-7 win in.

For the last five games of the season, Johan Dolder came back from the DL to take back the centerfield job. Anderson was a good defensive player, but his production was dreading. Well, Dolder’s was as well, but he locked down centerfield hard and the 25 points he was below Anderson in batting he – I felt – got back in with stellar defense on the grass.

Ed Sullivan was the hero in game 3 in Vancouver, launching a 3-run homer that won the game, 4-2. Ben Green actually got to save this one, facing a solid lefty opposition in the ninth. Ned Ray made his final start in the fourth game, picking up the loss, as the Raccoons went down 5-1, again failing to capitalize from two bases loaded situations with less than two outs, including in the top 9th, where they filled the bags with no outs and then Johnston, Simon, and Lopez failed to move anything, racking up two K’s and a pop up.

Still, the goal of putting up at least a .400 season was accomplished. One meaningless series against the Crusaders was left, where both teams could not gain or lose anything. In the CL South, the Bayhawks and Thunder would go directly against each other for the top spot. The Bayhawks needed a sweep to reach the postseason over Oklahoma City. In the FL West, Cincinnati was through already, but in the East, the Scorpions were one game ahead of the Wolves – also facing them! Even more crazy, the Dallas Stars were only two games back and faced the Gold Sox. At best they could reach a three-way tie. What would happen then? Would the universe explode?

The Raccoons still had very few things they could achieve, though. Pedro Sánz was only three points behind Boston’s Shawn Gilmore to become the best slugger of the season. Ben Simon had already won a title, albeit a bad one. With 137 K’s so far, he was leading in that category by a sound margin. Most pitching categories had been won by Juan Correa of the Bayhawks, who had shredded through opponents’ lineups all year long. He had won *33* games already.

What could go wrong? For the Crusaders, much went wrong. They lost their starter Mark Lee to a back injury after two innings – postseason in jeopardy. And they were rapped by the Raccoons, as Sánz was 3-4 with a pair of doubles in the 8-4 win. This continued the next day with a 2-0 win, where Ben Simon plated both runs, one in the first, and one with a solo homer in the sixth.

What about the postseason duels? The Bayhawks had taken the first two from Oklahoma and the two were tied. The last game was truly a decider here, while in the FL East the Wolves and Scorpions had split the first two, Scorpions still up by one, and Dallas had beaten Denver twice and also was only one game back. The three-way tie was still possible!

Maloney had contracted a mild abdominal strain in the 2-0 win over New York and missed the last game. The Raccoons did not sweep the Crusaders, but lost 2-1. Johan Dolder struck out with a runner on to end the season.

The Bayhawks and Thunder went at it, hard: the Bayhawks swept the Thunder with a 13-10 win and advanced to the LCS. In the Federal League? The Stars did what they had to, winning 4-1 against the Gold Sox, but the Scorpions beat the Wolves 7-5 on a 6-run bottom 2nd, qualifying to go against the Cyclones.

We had gone 67-95, but more importantly, 45-45 against our division. The CL South had really hit us hard with a 14-40 (!!) record. Our pythagorean record? 79-83. There is your .500 team, almost.

In other news:
September 26 – Sergio Martiel of the Capitals gets to 20 games with a hit in a row after going 4-4 against the Buffaloes. Martiel is hitting .315 with 101 RBI and five homers. Still, the Capitals lose the game, 6-5, and the fight for the playoffs, bringing the Cyclones’ magic number to zero. The Cincinnati Cyclones didn’t even play on this day to make it to the postseason.
September 28 – The Buffaloes chill Martiel’s streak at 21 games.
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Old 06-07-2012, 06:51 PM   #17
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Postseason

Scorpions @ Cyclones … 6-7 (Cyclones lead 1-0)
Crusaders @ Bayhawks … 1-3 (Bayhawks lead 1-0) SFB’s SP Savoldelli allowed 7 H, 5 BB, Crusaders still couldn’t hurt him

Scorpions @ Cyclones … 4-9 (Cyclones lead 2-0) Jorge Chavez got Sacramento ahead with a base-clearing double in the third, but the Scorpions were just overpowered. Chavez 3-4, 3 RBI
Crusaders @ Bayhawks … 3-5 (Bayhawks lead 2-0) SFB Thomas Martin 3-4, HR, 3 RBI

Cyclones @ Scorpions … 0-10 (Cyclones lead 2-1)
Bayhawks @ Crusaders … 1-2 (Bayhawks lead 2-1)

Cyclones @ Scorpions … 4-3 (Cyclones lead 3-1) Cyclones trailed by two after eight innings, but turned it in the top 9th
Bayhawks @ Crusaders … 2-8 (series tied 2-2)

Cyclones @ Scorpions … 5-1 (Cyclones win 4-1) CIN SP Juan Luis Maldonado goes distance without allowing an earned run
Bayhawks @ Crusaders … 4-1 (Bayhawks lead 3-2) SFB SP Juan Correa locked down Crusaders over seven innings

Crusaders @ Bayhawks … 1-3 (Bayhawks win 4-2)

1977 World Series matchup is thus between the Cincinnati Cyclones and the San Francisco Bayhawks!

Bayhawks @ Cyclones … 8-10 (Cyclones lead 1-0) Bayhawks led 8-2 after six, but their pen collapsed in epic fashion to surrender four each in the seventh and eighth innings

Bayhawks @ Cyclones … 1-3 (Cyclones lead 2-0) Jesse Thompson outlasted Walt McCorkindale in a pitcher’s duel

Cyclones @ Bayhawks … 9-7 (Cyclones lead 3-0) Cincinnati comes from behind in the seventh again to position themselves for the sweep, but will face Correa in game 4

Cyclones @ Bayhawks … 5-2 (Cyclones are WORLD CHAMPIONS, win 4-0) Cincinnati hits “Mauler” Correa for three in the top 2nd, which already proved enough.

The CINCINNATI CYCLONES are the inaugural WORLD SERIES WINNERS, going a near perfect 8-1 in the post season after entering with the best record of 97-65!

Off season starting now. We will go on a hunt for players, foremost at least one quality starting pitcher, and shore up our bullpen, then look for improvements at catcher, outfield, and maybe shortstop or second base. All without any money to spend.
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Old 06-08-2012, 05:51 PM   #18
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How to better start the off season but with the notice that two players had become arbitration eligible via the Super 2 rule. However, these were outfielders Luis Hernandez and David Correa. Hernandez was an average bench player, while Correa had gone 0-17 in the majors at the plate. Ben Green had not been resigned by the team. The lefty had gone 2-2 with 9 SV and 3.96 ERA during the season and was too expensive for what he had delivered.

(And the game … welcomed me on October 19 with the messages that the schedule would be shortened to 156 games and the DH rule had been implemented. What the?? No!? These were instantly reversed by me… I’m some godlike creature after all.)

We had also finished the 1977 season with a $1.8M profit. The Raccoons’ owner was happy and took the money to by some new jet … or jetski … or whatever. New budget was set to $5.8M, still smallest in the league. Penny-pinching bas…….eball.

October 25 – The Buffaloes harress me with the first trade proposal for the off season. They offer LF Michinaga Yamada, who had 20 HR and 90 RBI last season, for Ben Simon (who had the same numbers) PLUS three minor leaguers. The weather in Kansas must make these people insane. Rejected.
October 29 – Samuel Serra is traded back to the Stars by the Gold Sox, who had acquired him only during the 1977 season from the Stars. The Gold Sox get a pair of minor leaguers in the deal.
October 29 – The Titans acquire corner infielder Lino Zagallo from Los Angeles for two minor leaguers. Zagallo could be a big hitter in the next years.
October 29 – Wyatt Johnston is the only Raccoon among the Gold Glove winners for his 1B work.
November 1 – The Crusaders ship Zak Bodenham to the Aces for starting pitcher Tom Moulds (8-6, 3.82).
November 1 – Jack Pennington (Cyclones) and Juan Correa (Bayhawks) are pitchers of the year. Correa put up a 34-4 season with an 1.27 ERA.
November 2 – Christian Hampton (Buffaloes) and Hector Atilano (Crusaders) are presented with their batting title trophies. Hampton had a .375 season!
November 4 – The Gold Sox continue to be active and deal Manny Negrón to the Condors for two prospects. Negrón had a 16 HR-season.
November 4 – The Miners acquire pitching prospect Roberto Carillo from the Indians in a deal for a reliever Mario Valentín (2-1, 4.20).
November 7 – The Raccoons claim reliever Jerome Weeks off waivers from the Indianapolis Indians. Weeks spent only limited time on the majors roster in 1977 with an ERA over five, but our scouting departments thinks we found money in him. Weeks is 22 and has already good stuff that needs some seasoning in AAA, also to iron out some control struggles. He could be a key to the pen by 1979.
November 9 – In the arbitration hearings both the cases of Hernandez and Correa were decided in favor of the Raccoons and both were awarded new 1-year contracts.
November 10 – And he’s gone: the Raccoons trade outfielder David Correa (famously 0-17 in the majors in ’77) to the Vancouver Canadiens for pitching prospect John Hyde. Hyde had a fair season in AA in ’77 and should improve this season and maybe even get to AAA already.
Novmeber 12 – Players with expiring contracts file for free agency, including our Ben Green. Four teams have already jumped on him. I will pursue elsewhere.

November 13 – The Canadiens put former Raccoon David Correa on waivers.

There are a couple of free agents on the market I would like to hire, especially in the starting pitcher department. Juan Correa is also among them. How much come 34 wins per season? Apparently roughly $600k a year, for many years.

There was something to consider though, although I had budget room to sign one big guy. The Raccoons would pick either second or third in the 1978 draft. Signing any top starter now would lose them their pick. Of course we could gain one if Ben Green was signed, since he was a type A free agent, but that one would most likely come further down in the order.

November 25 – The Aces send Rob Dawson to the Wolves, primarily to grab pitching prospect Pedro Durán.
November 26 – We acquire C Kieran Lawson from the Pacifics in return for C Sam Moran and minor league reliever Carlos Marrero. Lawson is a solid .200+ hitter and will play backup behind Darryl Maloney. This fixes one of the most glaring issues with the team last year. Starting pitching is still not done, but we’re cooking something there…
November 27 – Bang! The Raccoons trade their #1 starter from last season, Alex Miranda, to the Tijuana Condors for two minor leaguers and starter Jorge Romero. The latter was 15-13 in 1977 with an ERA just under three, while Miranda led the league in walks.

December 1 – Rule 5 Draft; three players are picked, but the Raccoons are not effected.
December 3 – The Rebels re-sign free agent closer Stanley Holman, who racked up 28 saves for the team in ’77.

Now, the winter meetings went by uneventful for the Raccoons, but in mid-December we were leading in off season WAR improvement with 3.7 – mostly responsible for that was the Romero trade. Now there were still two or three things I wanted to get right. I wanted a centerfielder with better batting. Dolder and Anderson were fine defensively, but their offense was troubled. I could easily trade one of them away to achieve that goal, I just had to find a team willing to pick one up. If that would work, it would most likely be Dolder because of his much smaller contract. Dropping Anderson on someone would be hard.

One thing was the bullpen. I wanted seven guys again. Hatfield was the designated closer, with Gaston as setup. The remaining guys were lefties Padilla and Wright, plus righties Jenkins and Vazquez. One spot was currently open, but we had to keep in mind that Brett Justice was still on the DL. Calculating a full minors rehab assignment for him, he would not join the team before June, most likely at the end of the month.

What I had in mind was the following: trade Padilla away (he was struggling more often than not at the end of the season), move Ray as lefty to the pen, and get a new lefty starter. I was also on the heels of a Cuban defector, a 28 yr old right handed reliever.

I had an AAA starter with promising development, Logan Evans. He was actually a left handed pitcher, but he was not ready for the majors, he’d be most likely the next walk machine, and we had just shipped Miranda away. Evans could make the move to the majors, but not this year.

December 13 – The Falcons sign 1B Bill Peterson, who was .293 with 21 HR and 93 RBI for Topeka in 1977.
December 13 – The Raccoons ink Cuban international free agent reliever Tony Lopez and Mexican outfield prospect Juan Martinez. Perez is moved to the majors roster, and Martinez assigned to the A level.
December 14 – The Titans sign 21-game winner Sean Critch to a 3-year contract worth almost $1.3M.
December 31 – Free agent closer Bernardo Reyes signs with the Indians. He was 3-8 with 24 SV in 1977, with a 3.27 ERA. The Raccoons made an offer, but didn’t want to dig that deep in their pockets.
January 1 – The Raccoons trade minors outfielder Guy Mawson to Atlanta for pitching prospect David Castillo.
January 8 – Armando Padilla is sent to the Rebels for fellow lefty reliever Bill Baker, who had an 3.86 ERA in 1977.


Baker was not the starter I was looking for, but no top notch left handed starter was to be had. And also none from the second row. Still, Baker is much more consistent and walks much less batters than Padilla. The roster is more or less set now, with the exception of the centerfield problem.
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Old 06-08-2012, 07:19 PM   #19
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No matter what I do, I always run into roadblocks...

The schedule I had downloaded for use in this league has not been randomly reseeded by the game, nor has it picked a different schedule. So I am presented with the exact same schedule as last season. And I don't want that at all.

Is there a way to get the teams randomly reassigned within the schedule? I have not the least little idea about editing and the online manual has already proven to be no help at all (and seems to be blatantly wrong with the randomization of the schedule anyway)...

Help, please ...!
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Old 06-09-2012, 05:59 PM   #20
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I went ahead and manipulated the xml file so as to switch the schedules for the Raccoons and the Indians. This is a very pathetic fix which took me hours, since I messed up about a kazillion times. That’s the epic fail I am. Any suggestions for actual and less painful solutions for future seasons I would be more than just grateful. I would even send you a cookie or so. Or two.

--------

Finding a centerfielder suiting my wishes was not hard, but trading for him was not really easy. Eduardo Guerrero was too expensive, a few others were also a bit too highly paid, and then there was Phil Ayers of the Canadiens. He was suited for every outfield position and had some good contact ability, but without power. Still, he had a minimum contract, and I was very much interested. However the Canadiens demanded too much for a trade.

February 9 – The Scorpions dig in deep, signing Juan “Mauler” Correa (34-4 in ’77) to a 4-year, $2.23M contract. SS Beau Horn also signs with the Scorpions for $2.8M over five years. Horn is a strong shortstop hitting for average and power. He was with Salem in ’77.
February 9 – SP Guillermo Heredia, who was 6-3 with a 1.60 ERA before getting injured with the Aces, signs with the Blue Sox.
February 15 – Former Raccoon Ben Green signs with the Los Angeles Pacific for two years, making $273k per year.
February 18 – The Rebels sign Riley Simon, who had been hitting .345 for the Titans before fracturing a finger in early August that ended his season.
March 4 – The Capitals sign Japanese free agent 2B Seitaro Ine, who could be a pain to Federal League pitchers.

As March goes on I’m contemplating making an offer to Jesse Jeffries. The 36 yr old played a bit for Salem in ’77. His hitting is not too fancy, but he is a very versatile defensive sub for late innings. He would probably be an improvement compared to Hoyt Cook, whose place he would take on the roster. There are two more players of that type on the market, Cole Callender and Alberto Ruiz, but none of them is as strong defensively as Jeffries. I eventually made an offer for $75,800 for one year to him (he wanted $117,000 at first).

Brett Justice, my reliever laboring on a torn labrum, suffered a setback in his healing process, delaying his return for about another month. So he won’t join the majors again until late July (factoring in a rehab assignment).

Jeffries signed the contract offer I made him on the eve of the season, March 31. This set our roster. Three would have to go down, and these were R.J. Sanderson, Hector Mendez, and Luis Hernandez. This gave me three backup infielders and two backup outfielders, very well.

A few reports before the season starts: the Raccoons have three of the Top 10 prospects in the ABL, with SP Logan Evans (AAA) at #5, LF Daniel Hall (AA), our first pick in the ’77 draft at #7, and CF Juan Martinez (A), whom we had just kidnapped out of Mexico, at #10. Good times ahead?

Who had made the biggest jump in the off season? Sabermetricians were all in unison: the Scorpions had signed (among others) Juan Correa and Beau Horn, gaining 17.5 WAR. The Titans were +12.9, the Stars +5.6, and the Raccoons and Falcons shared fourth place at +4.0 – the Buffaloes (-7.3), Bayhawks (-8.6), and Wolves (10.8) were on the bottom of the barrel.

This leaves me with our roster for opening day (although the Raccoons would actually play on opening day):

SP Jorge Romero (15-13, 2.96, was with Tijuana in 1977)
SP Christopher Powell (14-12, 3.15, was 7-6 with both Denver and Portland, but with the Raccoons he actually had a 2.20 ERA!)
SP Juan Berrios (11-18, 3.53, the first ABL pitcher to toss a no-hitter)
SP Ned Ray (10-14, 3.93, only lefty in the rotation)

MR Bill Baker (4-3, 3.86, lefty with Richmond in 1977)
MR Wally Gaston (6-8, 2.75, has walk issues)
MR Ben Jenkins (6-3, 4.73)
MR Tony Lopez (signed as international free agent, could be a setup guy if he kicks in)
MR Jose Vazquez (2-1, 2.22, played only the last two months in the majors)
MR Bruce Wright (1-1, 1.54, like Vazquez came up late in the season, is a lefty who really surprised me)
CL Kevin Hatfield (1-2, 2.69, became the closer some way through the season, recorded 19 SV)

C Kieran Lawson (.201, 2 HR, 17 RBI with the Pacifics)
C Darryl Maloney (.239, 7 HR, 59 RBI)
1B Wyatt Johnston (.287, 15 HR, 92 RBI, last year of his contract, most likely won’t re-sign)
1B Hoyt Cook (.231, 1 HR, 11 RBI)
1B/2B/LF Jesse Jeffries (.283, 0 HR, 11 RBI in limited play with Salem)
1B/2B/3B/SS Ben Simon (.251, 21 HR, 91 RBI)
1B/2B/3B/SS/LF Ed Sullivan (.284, 20 HR, 61 RBI)
3B Freddy Lopez (.223, 0 HR, 20 RBI)
SS Greg Swift (.267, 2 HR, 57 RBI)

LF/RF Jose Flores (.277, 6 HR, 38 RBI, led team in steals with 24)
LF/CF/RF Tim Anderson (.229, 4 HR, 29 RBI)
1B/LF/CF/RF Johan Dolder (.209, 4 HR, 31 RBI, injured for much of the second half of the year)
RF Jorge Lopez (.284, 3 HR, 17 RBI)
LF/RF Pedro Sánz (.308, 17 HR, 70 RBI, injured four times in 1977)

One note: the ABL is very poor in two aspects, stealing and power hitting. Nobody had more than 26(!!) homers in 1977, and only one player had more than 30 steals. So those home run numbers are pretty good compared to the rest of the pack.

Opening day lineup:
LF Flores – 3B Sullivan – RF Sánz – 1B Johnston – 2B Simon – SS Swift – CF Dolder – C Maloney – P Romero

Titans, Aces, Falcons come to town to start the 1978 season. Let’s go!!
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